woman behind Grant Wiggins in Ernest J. Gaines' 'A Lesson Before Dying'? Her appearance causes quite a stir, not just among men who pause to watch. The A Lesson Before Dying characters covered include: Grant Wiggins, Jefferson , Tante Lou, Miss Emma, Reverend Ambrose, Vivian, Matthew Antoine, She wants to hide her relationship with Grant for fear her husband will use it to justify. you ever wanted to know about Vivian Baptiste in A Lesson Before Dying, written Vivian is not as dark-skinned as Grant and her first husband (at one point.
At that point Jefferson confided something in Mr.
A Lesson Before Dying: Novel Summary:chp 13-18
Without people like Miss Emma or Tante Lou, it seems likely that Grant would have festered in his desolation and spent his life feeling angry and ill-tempered.
While Grant tends many times to be withdrawn away from interaction with his aunt and Miss Emma, he opens up to Vivian at the end and admits his weakness by laying his somnolent head in her lap. In the first half of A Lesson Before Dying, Grant is always separating himself from the people in his life. For example, both Tante Lou and Miss Emma are always trying to get Grant to eat their food, which for them is a symbolic way of taking care of their men, and similar to Grant, Jefferson ends up doing the same thing when he refuses the food that Miss Emma brings for him.
A Lesson Before Dying Study Guide | Novelguide
In ways, this refusal on the part of both these men to accept this sign of love and care from his family binds them together. One can assume that this mutual refusal and finally acceptance of the food is what helps Grant begin to understand Jefferson.
Perhaps this was one of the reasons that Miss Emma and Tante Lou were so certain that Grant could help the condemned man, because they could see the link between them. Grant feels that they are all bending to the will of the whites and seems very frustrated that so few of them do not act out against those who are keeping them down. The church and community around him are all involved in just seem to Grant to be the same thing, a ferocious circle of compliance.
It is not until Grant learns to put some faith in the people who are trying to make him realize that he can change and become a fully realized man, even if he just thinks they are all bending to the pressures of white society. The forces in the black community this quote is referring to are Emma, Tante Lou, and Vivian.
Without them, Grant, with his feelings of abhorrence, would likely spend his life hating everything around him and this would be excruciating. Emma wants to see him humanized, rather than compared to a mere animal a hog. With their dedicated sense of community responsibility, they understand that it is necessary for Grant to take on this accusation, both for the sake of halting his growing sullenness and the representation of the black community in Bayonne.
To his great surprise, he turns to see Vivian in the doorway of his room. Conflicts between characters abound in this novel, and this chapter introduces a new conflict that will increase the pressure on Grant. His desertion of his childhood faith sets him against Reverend Ambrose, whose primary concern for Jefferson is that he die holding onto his faith and believing that, although he suffers injustice now, he will receive peace and reward in heaven. Ambrose also serves as a surrogate father-figure in the novel.
Ambrose, on the other hand, offers wisdom and compassion, yet these traits also drive Grant away. Vivian wanted to see Grant and so drove to the quarter.
She has never been to his home before. They kiss and then go to the kitchen for coffee and cake. Grant tells her that he finds Sundays sad, but she points out that, for laborers, Sunday is a good day. Perhaps, she suggests, he ought to find something to do on Sunday—for example, go to church: As they lie down in the cane field, Vivian reveals that she is pregnant, and Grant wonders whether he wants his child to grow up in the quarter.
Grant has carefully kept their worlds apart—she is in Bayonne, and he is in the quarter. Readers also learn that Vivian cares about people generally from her comments about Sundays. Vivian asks Grant whether he wants her to stay and meet Lou, and he says yes. She met this dark-skinned man while at college and married him, knowing that her family would not accept him because of his skin color.
In fact, they not only rejected him but then shunned Vivian and her children as well. She has contact with her mother and aunts only through letters. At the house, Emma, Inez, and Eloise are visiting with Lou. Grant introduces Vivian, and the women react politely but coolly. So you might as well start getting along right now.
Yes, she loves her mother.
Yes, she goes to church. Yes, she is in love with Grant. She and Grant go out on the porch, where she seems unsettles and decides to leave. Throughout the novel, gathering to share coffee and food is a sign of community. When Grant and Vivian make and serve coffee and cake for Lou and her friends, they are insisting that Vivian be accepted in the quarter. The gesture is successful but also a bit ironic, given how often, by this point in the story, Grant has refused when other characters offered him coffee.
He rejects the very gesture of community that he now uses to integrate Vivian into his home life. In this case, Jefferson behaved so badly that Emma slapped him, and now, as she thinks of it, she is heartbroken. He then repeated his hog-like behavior, causing Emma to slap him.
She then embraced him and wept, but he did not respond.
Vivian Baptiste and Matthew Antoine
Now, at the kitchen table, Lou and Ambrose try to comfort her, and Grant admits that Jefferson acted the same way when he visited. Here at the halfway mark of the novel, emotions of grief, anger, and despair dominate.
By the time Grant visits Jefferson again on Friday, his anger has ebbed away. Perhaps, he thinks, his inability to stay angry stems from his unwillingness to believe in anything.
- A Lesson Before Dying
At the jail, he submits to the usual humiliating search and then decides to talk to Paul about Jefferson.