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The women who are considered beautiful in the quarter all seem to be light-skinned.
At the beginning of the novel, Grant views religion with disdain, acknowledging its important place in African-American culture while questioning its truth and its usefulness.
Although he never embraces Christianity, the events of the novel make him more aware of how religion can soothe the afflicted.
Nevertheless, he is doubtful that public education as it works in the quarter is very effective.
"Reading, writing, and 'rithmetic" seem inadequate to the needs of Grant's students, who must overcome poverty and prejudice to scratch out even a meager existence.
Vivian's love also transforms Grant in smaller ways--for example, she influences him to become more dedicated to his job and hold a Christmas pageant for the children, something he would be unable to do otherwise.
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And significantly, it is kindness from Grant and the townspeople rather than preaching from Reverend Ambrose that finally convinces Jefferson to behave with dignity.
At the beginning of the novel, Grant is convinced that any dignity he has comes from his high level of education.
This attitude prevents him from getting through to Jefferson, who is of significantly lower social status than Grant.
However, Gaines also portrays racism within the African-American community in the quarter.
Mulattos avoid associating with full-blooded African-Americans, and Grant himself harbors some negative stereotypes about mulattos, speculating that they all work in bricklaying so they don't have to be around full blacks.