The myth in the novel A Lesson before Dying

The myth in the novel A Lesson before Dying

The dictionary definition of myth is a usually legendary narrative that presents part of the beliefs of a people or explains a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon. One baseless myth has haunted American society during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and in the novel A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines. The myth is the common belief that whites are superior to all other races. The nineteenth century is plagued with racial tension and turmoil. White American used several methods to publicly show their supremacy to Blacks including slavery, laws, and other humiliating methods. During the early, to middle 19th century Blacks mostly held positions as slaves and those whom were free held lowly jobs. In this period, laws were made to magnify the inferiority of Blacks. The three-fifths proposal was instated, which meant that every slave was equal to three fifths of one person. Blacks had no rights in white dominated society; this is shown through U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brook Taney’s comment, “Negroes (blacks) had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Unfortunately, with the Union winning the Civil War and setting all slaves free whites continued to have a superior attitude. Even the president of the United States, who spearheaded the Civil War, made this racist white supremacist comment, “I will say, then, that I AM NOT NOR HAVE EVER BEEN in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with White people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the White and black races which will ever FORBID the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be the pos…


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