Fences Vs A Lesson Before Dying




In the novels, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines and Fences by August Wilson, the characters struggle to overcome life’s difficulties and to find the true meaning of their existence by freeing themselves from their troubles. This form of self-redemption helps to renew each character’s conscience and bring him or her to a new light, where they can reach the full potential of their lives. Both works of literature contain several characters that overcome life’s hardships with redemption, but the ones who make the biggest sacrifices are the most important. The two that truly redeem themselves are Grant, from A Lesson Before Dying and Rose, from Fences.
In August Wilson’s novel Fences, it is Rose who experiences the greatest redemption when she agrees to care for Troy’s daughter, Raynell. Rose experiences one of life’s worst hardships when she discovers that her husband has had an affair with another woman. When Troy admits the truth to Rose about his affair, she is heart broken and deeply hurt. Rose can not believe that after eighteen years of marriage Troy would go and do such a thing. Not only was Troy neglecting his family but he was also jeopardizing the well being of his new daughter, Raynell. It was then that Rose truly begins to see the real Troy. She sees how selfish he is for visiting the woman at his leisure just to make himself feel better. In the following line from page 78, Rose explains to Troy how he is not the only one suffering and that she too feels like she is trapped inside their small, immobile world. “You not the only one who’s got wants and needs. But I held on to you, Troy.” Unlike Troy, Rose has accepted her current situation and has learned to deal with the problems she is faced with everyday. She has also not strayed from Troy, but has “stayed in his bed.” The next big problem Rose must face is what to do with the baby. On page 78, Troy uses sympathy to persuade Rose to take care of the child. He states “she innocent…and she ain’t got no mama.” Troy knows that he would not make a good parent so he asks Rose if she could be the mother to his child. Rose, being the good-hearted person that she is, pushes her own feelings aside when she decides to care for Troy’s baby. Although she is in a great deal of pain, Rose still manages to realize how Raynell is not to blame for Troy’s actions but that she too deserves a good home. Rose’s words at the bottom of page 78 further show her strength as she agrees to mother Raynell even after all the pain Troy has put her through. “Like you say…she’s innocent…and you can’t revisit the sins of the father upon the child.” By accepting the responsibility of the baby from Troy, Rose was not only retaining her dignity and self respect but she was greatly redeeming herself. Her self-redemption came from controlling the pain and anger she felt towards Troy and accepting the situation she was in with the baby. By putting the past events behind her, she was able to overcome her problems with Troy and turn her life in a positive direction.
Another character that experiences self-redemption by overcoming life’s difficulties, is Grant Wiggins from Ernest Gaines’s novel, A Lesson Before Dying. Grant experiences his self-redemption through his visits with Jefferson at the jail, while waiting on death row. After Jefferson was wrongly convicted of murder, he was sentenced to death by way of electrocution. While he was awaiting execution, his godmother, Miss Emma, requested that Grant go to Jefferson’s cell and teach him how to be a man. It would be through Grant’s interactions with Jefferson and his talks with Reverend Ambrose that would set him on his way to self-redemption. His redemption begins when he first goes to visit Jefferson. When Grant arrives at Jefferson’s cell he sees how depressed and lonely he is. Grant reaches out to Jefferson by telling him about the weekly events and bringing him food to eat that the school kids prepared for him. Grant tries to comfort Jefferson by listening to him