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The Meaning of Independence in a Lesson before Dying Novel

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What is independance? What comes to mind? Many would say that it means to be free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority.

The novel “ A lesson before dying” explains how this word, this meaning is ripped away from the hands of a young man named Jefferson. Throughout the novel Jefferson is caught in a crime scene that he did not commit, he is tried for murder, and called a Hog by those that don’t believe him. Jefferson has no independence, he relies on his aunt to feed, clothe, and take care of him when she can’t even take care of herself, he has no education or a job he is useless to everyone but yet he still is a person, a man with a name… not a hog.

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Education is a big part in being Independent, it’s what gets us where we need to go in life or anything that may come our our way. People may think that it’s just another hurdle that we have to overcome, something that isn’t always accomplished. Although education isn’t one of Jefferson’s strong suits in ways it affects him greatly but his blindness to the situation should not hold him accountable for something he did not commit. In the novel it states “If i ain’t nothing but a hog, how come they just don’t knock me in the head like a hog? Starb me like a hog? More erasing, then: man walk on two foots; hogs on four hoofs”(193) As seen here Jefferson has the vocab/grammar of a 6 year old kid, if Grant were to speak there would be a great difference in the words chosen and in which way they were placed because he is an educated man. Education is very important to become Independent but it isn’t the only thing that it takes to get there.

Commonsense is also one of the many things needed to become independent, it means to have good sense and sound judgment in practical matters. Common sense is a thought or an action that leads you to choose right from wrong separate the good from the bad, this is something that Jefferson does not have. Even though the decision that Jefferson made to get in the car was very dumb and unsafe he was thinking of a way to get home he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. “… He wanted to run, but he couldn’t run. He couldn’t even think. He didn’t know were he was. He didn’t know how he had gotten there”(9) This text lets the readers know that at that moment Jefferson felt somewhat trapped he felt like he had no sense of direction. The absence of common sense greatly affected Jefferson, it impaired him to be able to think for himself, he doesn’t have education or common sense what is there left for him to lose…

Thinking for ourselves in many opinions may not be hard but their meaning of thinking for themselves may be different, a lot of people have others do it for them like a mother and her baby, she thinks for her baby because it is young and immature, in this case the baby is Jefferson and the mom is brother and bear, they persuaded him enough to say yes and get in the car. Although Jefferson has a mind of his own his ability to think for himself is not as strong as any other person. One of the pages in the novel has a sentence that says “A fool is not aware of right and wrong. A fool does what others tell him to do…{a}fool stood by and watched this happen, not having the sense to run”(7) This explains that Jefferson was so ignorant to the fact of doing the right thing that when he decided to take the money and not run to get help he put his life to be taken away for the actions of someone else. Thinking for ourselves is some very important and pushes us even closer to being independent, and in many cases it saves us from getting in a lot of trouble.

Lastly, probably the most important thing of being independent is having the money to prove that we’ve earned everything that we have. Being wealthy can get many people farther than having to depend on anyone else to provide it. Even though it is said many of times that money doesn’t buy happiness it does give you a life something that Jefferson did not have. He didn’t know what it was to work hard for something and be proud of himself for earning what he has. In the novel it clearly states that “he didn’t have a solitary dime”(4) he was broke all of the time he didn’t even know what money was worth. This shows that having money is nothing if the price is too big to pay. Money doesn’t grow on trees nor is it easy to have but if we are independent enough, cherish what we get because many don’t get anything have to supply for their families in ways we cannot imagine.

As stated Jefferson is not in any way, shape, form independent. No points that were spoken about in this essay reflect on Jefferson, but we are all human, many humans are not independent but the are and should be treated like anyone else. Isn’t that how God created us to be, to help when in need, to lift when down? Sadly not many of us see it like that but it takes to be independent to use our common sense and thinking for ourselves to notice that others need more help than we are used to, we just have to be willing to understand and not judge or call them names when they don’t speak the way they are supposed to or walk they way they should, Independence is something we learn as we grow not something we are born with.


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