In this essay, I was asked to describe who I though the greatest hero was in "A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest J. Gaines.

Essay by Zer0xXxHigh School, 10th gradeA, December 2002

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A Hero in A Lesson Before Dying

Throughout the course of the novel, Jefferson, at first lacking all signs of heroism, ?makes the changes needed in order to become the hero he is. According to Grant, a hero ?must be selfless, or willing to do anything to better the lives of the ones he loves. He ?must also be willing to stand up for himself as well as his peers. Because of this, this hero ?is above all other because no one else is willing to do these things. Jefferson not only ?lives up to these, but in the end of the novel, does more than what's expected of a hero.?

The first part of Grant's definition, being selfless, is truly displayed in Jefferson in ?the end of the book. Jefferson, at first babbling on and on about hog nonsense whenever ?Grant comes to visit him, makes a dramatic change as is shown in the last few jail scenes ?of the book.

Jefferson's change is really noticeable when you compare his first and last ?visits. During the first one-hour visit, all Jefferson said was a little less than ten sentences, ?all about three to four words long, his longest sentence being, "When they go'n do it? ?Tomorrow?" The last visit Jefferson had with Grant, he not only talked with him the ?whole time, but he was using full sentences and giving him his full attention. Clearly, ?Jefferson made profound progress from the beginning to the end.?

In another example of Jefferson's unselfish attitude, he shows how he would do ?anything to better the lives of the ones he loves. By eating his mother's gumbo even ?though he isn't hungry, he displays a quality that was completely contrary to something ?he never would even have considered doing at the start of...