Hardships In Fences And A Lesson Before

Dying Essay, Research Paper

The Books Fences, by August Wilson and A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gains, the main characters are forced to live with many hardships. Yet only a few of them can declare value of their lives, and redeem themselves, despite these hardships. In Fences, Rose, Troy’s wife, does declare value of her life by putting her foot down and saying that she cannot love Troy anymore. She does so when Troy tells here that he had an affaire with Alberta and now she is pregnant. Troy tries to reason his affaire by telling her “I can sit up in her house and laugh. Do you understand what I’m saying. I can laugh out loud . . . and it feels good.” Still, this does not make Rose happy about the situation. She has had to go through a lot with Troy, he is a drinker, she helped raise his son from his first marriage, and he is overall not a very happy guy. However, Troy getting Alberta pregnant was too much for Rose to take. She tells him, “You should have stayed in my bed, . . . You should have held me tight. You should have grabbed me and held on.”(Wilson p. 70) Then later after accepting to take care of his new daughter she tells him “you a woman less man.”(Wilson p. 79) Though she stays married to him, she does not love him anymore, she is not a “part” of him now. When Cory comes back when troy dies, Rose explains her life with troy to him. “I took his life as mine and mixed up the pieces so that you couldn’t hardly tell which was which anymore. It was my choice. It was my life and I didn’t have to live like that But that’s what life offered me in the way of being a woman and I took it. I grabbed hold of it with both hands . . . By the time Raynell came into the house, me and your daddy had done lost touch with one another . . . but I took Raynell like she was all them babies I had wanted and never had.”(Wilson p. 98) Rose explains to Cory that though her marriage to Troy was not doing so well, she still stuck with it because “that’ what life offered me.” The first step to redemption is acknowledging your faults and then if you can accept them you can move on. Rose has done that she has moved on, declared value for her life despite her hardships.

In A lesson Before Dying, Jefferson is one character who declares value for their lives and redeem themselves. He does this by walking to the electric chair, by not believing that he is a hog. By realizing his faults and accepting the hardships of his life, then forgiving and forgetting them. That was the only way he could have died like a man and with a clear conscious. Jefferson talks about some hardships of his life in his journal, he says “ever since I was nothing but a little boy, I been on my own haulin’ water to the field” (Gains p. 227). That’s what Jefferson did as he was growing, he worked in the field on the water cart, “I done pulled that cotton sack, I done cut cane, load cane, swung that ax, chop ditch banks, since I was six” (Gains p.224). They never gave Jefferson a chance to do better and higher things. That’s mostly because he is black. Jefferson, Grant, Miss Emma, Tante Lou, they all have gotten the short end of the stick because they are black. Yet Jefferson was able, at the end of the book, to get above that mostly due to Grant. He, though he didn’t know it showed Jefferson how to be a man. “A hero is someone who does something for other people. He does something that other men do not and cannot do . . . He is above other men”(Gains p. 191). Grant is trying to encourage Jefferson to come out on top, to forgive and forget in a way. “I want you to show them that you are as much a man–more a man than they can ever be,” (Gains p. 192). When Paul comes to give Grant Jefferson journal he tells him about what he say at the execution, “But tell them [Miss Emma and Tante Lou] he was the bravest man in that room today. I’m a witness”(Gains p.256). In the end Jefferson did become “more a man than they can ever be.”


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