Based on chapters 4 and 15 of Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying, what was the cause of conflict between Vivian and her family over her marriage? What caused the conflict between Vivian and...

Based on chapters 4 and 15 of Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying, what was the cause of conflict between Vivian and her family over her marriage? What caused the conflict between Vivian and Tante Lou over her relationship with Grant?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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As is revealed in Chapter 4 of Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying, one cause of conflict between Vivian and her family due to the prospect of her marrying Grant is the fact that Vivian is not yet legally divorced to her first husband; she's only separated from him. The separation creates two different conflicts for Vivian: first, since she is only separated from her husband, she cannot legally marry Grant until the divorce is finalized; and second, Grant wants her to come away with him and leave the area, but Vivian is legally bound to remain in Bayonne where her first husband can easily visit their children on the weekends. Hence, as a result of her separation from her first husband, Vivian can neither marry Grant nor leave the area with him, which creates conflict between her and Grant and between her and her children.

As Chapter 15 reveals, Grant's aunt Tante Lou has a history of treating Grant's girlfriends disrespectfully. However, Tante Lou, upon first meeting Vivian, says, "You're a lady of quality. Quality ain't cheap," so we know that Tante Lou has nothing personally against Vivian (p. 116). Instead, she seems to want Vivian to see that Grant is not the perfect match for her, as Vivian is a God-fearing churchgoer, while Grant no longer attends church. Hence, it seems the conflict between Vivian and Tante Lou is that Tante Lou does not want Vivian marrying Grant because she thinks Vivian is too good for him and that Grant has things to learn before he's ready to be married.

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