Gathering of Old Men

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A Gathering of Old Men by Earnest J. Gaines is a great novel about race relations in the south. The novel begins with a child narrator who relates the report that there has been a shooting on a Louisiana plantation, and a white, Cajun farmer Beau Boutan, is dead. He has been killed in the yard of an old black worker, Mathu. Because of the traditional conflict between Cajuns and blacks in South Louisiana, the tension in the situation and the fear of the black people is immediately felt in the novel. I would definitely recommend this book to someone else. Gaines uses the fifteen narrators to deal with the changing relationship between the Cajuns and the blacks in Louisiana. As each narrator picks up the story, we see the tension between the past and the present, the conflict between the whites and the blacks. This allows Gaines to set up the unfolding of the depths of character and the courage of the men.

Mapes, the white sheriff who traditionally dealt with the black people by the use of intimidation and force, finds himself in a frustrating situation of having to deal with a group of black men, each carrying a shotgun and claiming that he shot Beau Boutan. In addition, Candy Marshall, the young white woman whose family owns the plantation, claims that she did it. As each person tells the story, he takes the blame and, with it the glory.

Gaines technique allows the characters to reveal themselves and their relations with others. We hear the story through the voices of the old black men, a black woman, a child, and the white narrators. We not only see the conflicts of the blacks, but also the conflicts of the Cajuns as well.

It is very interesting the Gaines didn't give the three main characters a voice. The reason that I think that he did it this way is because Mathu knows what really happened. He is the only one who knows who killed Beau Boutan. By coming at the main characters like this Gaines heightens the effect of their involvement and...
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