Conflicts in the Film Version of "A Lesson Before Dying".

Essay by stillwaters24University, Ph.D.A+, September 2005

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The movie, "A Lesson Before Dying," based on the book by Ernest J. Gaines, contains several conflicts among characters existing at various points throughout the movie. This paper will touch on some of them.

Three of the biggest conflicts existing in the movie are over race, religion, and education. The main character, Grant Wiggins, has conflicts over one or more of these aspects with many characters in the movie. Wiggins has a conflict with "the white man" in general over religion and race, and to some extent, education. He feels he has to be highly educated, more so than his black counterparts, to compare himself favorably to the white man. Even then, however, he still feels inferior. He feels that the religion of the blacks is really the white man's religion, and thus rejects it. Growing up in Louisiana, he has been treated as inferior by the white majority his entire life, producing a racial conflict.

He resents his own background and wants to better himself by moving North.

At the beginning of the movie, Wiggins is a man without faith. He rejects the church and Reverend Ambrose because he sees his faith as being the faith of the white man. He has a conflict with Reverend Ambrose over religion and sees him as being a sham. He refuses to attend church which deeply hurts his godmother, Tante Lou. However, Wiggins has his pupils pray in the hours before Jefferson's death, and later says that Ambrose is braver than he himself is. Later, that faith that Wiggins rejected as belonging to the white man actually enables him to stand up against the injustice the white man afflicts on the black man.

Wiggins can also be seen as having a conflict with Tante Lou over education. She is...