Why does Reverend Ambrose call Grant uneducated?

Expert Answers
ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Ernest J. Gaines, "A Lesson Before Dying," Reverend Ambrose approaches Grant to request his help in getting Jefferson to turn to God before his execution.  Grant tells the Reverend that the soul is his job.  Grant says all he does is teach Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  The Reverend becomes angry with Grant and frustrated because of Grant's lack of faith.  He tells Grant that he is uneducated because he doesn't understand the history of his people.  He tells him he knows nothing and that to be educated you have to understand what God means and what life is about.  He continues to try and get Grant to say that he will tell Jefferson that he believes in Heaven, but Grant says he won't lie.  The Reverend tries to tell Grant that to keep the Black people of the Parish to have hope and suffer less he has to lie to them. 

Reverend Ambrose tells Grant that he has no idea of what his aunt has suffered for him, and until he sees the sacrifice he can't be educated.  He says,

"And that's the difference between me and you boy; that make me the educated one, and you the gump.  I know my people.  I know what they gone through.  I know they done cheated themself, lied to themself-hoping that one they all love and trust can come back and help relieve the pain."

This statement means that Grant should willingly come back to the Parrish and give back to the people because of all they have sacrificed so he could be educated at a university and gain the knowledge needed to teach the next generation.  To ease their pain, Grant must break the cycle of ignorance.

Read the study guide:
A Lesson before Dying

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question