Ernest  Gaines
Symposium 2001
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Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, MA
KatieLou Ferreira
"Coping Strategies of Symbolic Characters in the Works of Ernest J. Gaines"
"Civil Rights in Louisiana"
Link to Senior Art Thesis


In the writings of Ernest J. Gaines, Of Love and Dust and A Lesson Before Dying, blacks work diligently in order to achieve equal rights. Ernest Gainesí black and white characters experience many conflicts and misfortunes. Through these experiences, the characters discover ways to cope with these situations. As the characters cope with everyday life, they all turn to some means of support. Some turn to their traditions as a means of coping. Some turn to their loved ones and families and demonstrate determination and courage to endure their hardships. Faith in God and the Bible enable some to cope with difficult situations. For some, resisting the white manís powers is a way of coping. Each character symbolizes some means of coping and relies on that method throughout the novels.

The Civil rights movement in Louisiana in the 1900s gained blacks much freedom, however their fight for equal rights was met with many challenges. Their suffering in the past and present brought about numerous conflicts. Boycotts, Supreme Court cases, and courageous leaders achieved positive outcomes for blacks. By the end of the civil rights movement, blacks in Louisiana gained power in their society and achieved independence. Blacks took actions through the struggle in Louisiana to achieve freedom in their society and to cope with hardships throughout life. With each conflict, blacks never gave up their fight for independence and equality and dealt with any misfortune that came their way. Ultimately, they succeeded in their struggle for freedom.

Photo credit: http://www.bickley.com/ernest_gaines.html