A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines Character Analysis Mr. Farrell Jarreau

Mr. Farrell Jarreau is the only black male in the novel who is consistently addressed as "Mr." Even though Mr. Farrell Jarreau is employed as Henri Pichot's yardman and messenger and has been subjected to the same indignities and humiliations as the other men in the quarter, he has been able to transcend his physical environment and retain his dignity and self-respect.

As a messenger, Mr. Farrell Jarreau is the bridge between the black and white community, which is indicated by his being sent to deliver numerous messages to Grant at the plantation school. But he is much more than that. He is also a loving husband to his "little Creole wife," thereby dispelling the stereotype (held by Vivian's parents) of the poor black man who vents his frustrations by abusing his wife. Through Grant's conversation with Jefferson in Chapter 24, we also discover that Mr. Farrell Jarreau is noted for his fine wood carvings. Even though he is unable to develop his artistic talent, he enjoys creating things with his own hands. Ultimately, this quality is what sets him apart from other men, such as Matthew Antoine, who have become victims of the racist society in which they live: Mr. Farrell Jarreau has refused to become an object to be acted upon; in his own quiet, unassuming way, he has taken control of his life and retains his role as a human subject who creates his own life out of the scraps he has been given. Through his initiative and creativity, he is able to fashion something beautiful out of something ordinary.

Although he is a minor character, Mr. Farrell Jarreau plays a major part in defining black manhood. In essence, he demonstrates that, as Rev. Ambrose points out, a man can kneel and stand at the same time.

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