Analysis of Vivian from a Lesson Before Dying Essay Example
Analysis of Vivian from a Lesson Before Dying Essay Example

Analysis of Vivian from a Lesson Before Dying Essay Example

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In the novel, A Lesson Before Dying, Vivian, Grant’s girlfriend, is more than just a “strong woman. ” She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to express her feelings. Although the majority of the novel’s attention is directed to Grant and Jefferson, Vivian as well deserves attention because she is a complex and well—developed character. Yes, Grant and Jefferson have their issues that need attention, but everyone has their problems and needs someone to lean on at least once in their life.For example, Grant says, “Let’s go somewhere and spend the night.

Baton Rouge, New Orleans—anywhere,” only thinking of himself. However, it’s not and what he wants; it’s what she needs, what Vivian needs. Grant’s relationship with Vivian appears to be rather one-sided. Grant expects her to be there for him, but he think


s of her only in terms of his wants and needs.

Vivian is there to satisfy his need for sex and conversation. She is there to support him and to nurse his wounds. We never see him reciprocate.While Vivian is willing to accept her responsibilities as a mother, teacher, and lover, Grant is unwilling to assume the responsibilities that accompany his roles as nephew, teacher, and lover. Throughout the novel, Grant reiterates his love for Vivian by saying; “I love you,” but never showing actions based on his verbal affections.

“Honey, I love you” Grant says. “That’s no answer. I don’t know what you mean by love. That bed? The cane field? What is love? Tell me what love is.

” Vivian says, finally releasing what had been building up.Grant apparently never showed or expressed his love before because at that point he had nothin

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to say. To Vivian, it seems that love is more than a simple, “I love you”; it’s more of actions. The way she feels is that Grant only loves her when it’s time for sex or when he’s in need.

Love is that acknowledgement from a person. Love is simply more than words. Support is a means or device that keeps something erect, stable, or secure. In the novel, Vivian is in the process of getting a divorce; however, her husband will only agree to the divorce if he can see his children every weekend.While Grant should be there to console her, in reality, he’s upset that the divorce will only delay their “going away” trip from the plantation.

A prime example of Grants self-centered actions is when he suspected Vivian was mad with him; most people would try to talk it out or even pretend to be interested in her feelings; however, Grant continued to talk about his daily activities: “It went well today, honey. It went very well. He and I walked around the room, while I talked to him. Then we ate. His nannan was so proud.

I brought him the pencil and notepad I told you about.It went good today, honey. Aren’t you proud? ” Grant feels that he is trapped by a myriad of forces, his aunt’s incessant wants, the children’s need for a teacher, and the community’s need for leadership. Grant cannot bring himself to carry these burdens thus far he cannot support Vivian in her life decisions because he has so much going on in his own life. In contrast to Grants busy life, Vivian gives him an ultimatum: unless he

is willing to show some consideration, she will leave him. With all that has gone on in Vivian’s life, she still has room to be an idolized black woman.

For Vivian, being a teacher has more morale and meaning than just instructing students what to do. It means being a leader and role model. However, for Grant being a teacher means having a steady job and a measure of status in his community. Vivian challenges her students and gives them hope for the future. Her goal is to instill hope in her students for a brighter future and a life outside the limited plantation community. She does this by building their self-esteem and helping them become contributing members of the community, while Grant — as evidenced by his ever-present Westcott ruler — is primarily concerned with control and discipline.

A classic example that illustrates their divergent approach to teaching is their method of teaching students to write a simple sentence: While Grant ridicules and humiliates his student who can’t write her simple sentence in a straight line; Vivian encourages her students, who are learning to write simple sentences in French. By teaching her students French, Vivian is embracing her Creole heritage. By helping her students transcend their cultural boundaries by learning a foreign language, she is also teaching them to transcend their geographic boundaries and their perceived personal limits.As she points out to Grant, “We’re teachers and we have a commitment. ” All in all, Grant is caught up in his own troubles that he doesn’t realize he’s driving away the woman that loves him.

Just as he leans on Vivian for support, she wants the same. As

she states, “I hope you love me half as much as I love you,” Vivian wants someone to be there for her, someone to listen to her troubles and support her in her decisions. She needs not a verbal proclamation, but the action and commitment to show it. She needs true love.

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