In the novel, A Lesson Before Dying, the character Grant Wiggins is perceived as a hero by his community. But, when delving deeper to analyze his character, his flaws tend to outweigh his character traits. He is seen as a cowardly and irresponsible person. His flaws hold him back from what he can really do, to help out the coloured folk of his community, and also holds him back from becoming a true educator for the children.
Grant is stubborn, irresponsible, bitter, and bigoted and is faithless. He is an educated man, but thinks he is better then the rest of the community, he is bigoted towards his own race and resents being a Negro, “…she knew how much I hated all this.” His stubbornness of not being willing to help out Tante Lou and Miss Emma, hold him back and make him a much more rented person mentally. He has no self-esteem and by lacking in self-confidence, he turns out to be exactly what the white men want him to be.
Grant Wiggins is not a hero, this being; he lacks confidence to be able to influence the coloured community. He does not go out and try to make a difference; instead he continues to teach the children with out being the mentor he should really be. He in fact, does what the white men tell him to do,
He is blinded by his own selfishness, and not being able to see that small changes are happening all around him, i. Jefferson is the real hero, he was the one that had to go through so much change, and undergoes a self-realization that there are some people in the world that care. The reason of this is that, he chooses to run away from everything, from his home, his family and his faith and his responsibility as a teacher, "we"tmre teachers, and we have a commitment. "I teach what the white men tell me to teach- reading, writing and arithmetic"" He feels that he is failing, not only with the children in the coloured community, but also with not being able to reach Jefferson, "I"tmm not doing any good up there""The reason for Grant"tms failing is because of unclear vision of not being able to see that change is occurring. " Grant thinks that he is able to solve his problems by just running away and leaving his problems all behind him, ""just run away from this place"" What really keeps Grant in Louisiana is his love interest, Vivian, but even she is understands much more than Grant does about his community and knows that things are changing within the area, however, because of Vivian"tms white blood, she doesn"tmt really know the occurrences in the black community. Jefferson is the hero as he turns from a hog to a dignified man and sits in the electric chair. By Grant not being at the execution, this demonstrates hoe selfish his is and is thinking about only himself and his needs, "I need you"I need you more than ever"" This demonstrates that the real hero is Jefferson, he has come out from his trance and instead of believing himself to be a hog, he walked to the electric chair like a man, "good by mr wigin tell them im strong tell them im a man"" Grant also believes that Jefferson is much more braver than him and respects him for that, "he is brave, braver than I, braver than any of them. This shows his cowardness and irresponsibility. He has been brought up with education, and the coloured folk believe that Grant is the one that can help to save them. They believe that Grant can teach the next generation of children, not to make the same mistakes, or to become stuck in the never ending rut, "exactly what I"tmm trying to do here with you now: to make you responsible young men and ladies. Grant is the only one who cannot see that things are slowly changing in the community, "nothing is changing"" Instead, he is caught up in his own little follies and self-needs about what is he wants and what he needs, not about everyone else"tms needs.