A Gathering of Old Men
The integration of the white and black races is the most remarkable event of the second half of this century, surpassed only by two world wars in its significance. A Gathering of Old Men is a remarkable mystery about a young white woman and seventeen old black men in an isolated Louisiana township, each of whom confess to the murder of a brutal Cajun farmer. The simple symbols used in A Gathering of Old Men have a great impact on Gaines' audience. These symbols are the tractor and the sugar cane. The tractor symbolizes an image of the present, whereas the cane represents the days of the past when the blacks worked the land. The old black men are strong-minded, but the Cajun farmers' changes are huge and demoralizing. The black men grow through the novel and become individuals and depict their inner pain. The Cajuns do not see nor realize the years of pain and guilt that the black men have carried with them. The story illustrates two worlds, the inner world is the life in Marshall Quarters, the old black men and their family; the outer world being everything outside the Quarters, Fix, the Cajuns, and even the white people. The blacks have an inner family that has experienced similar hardships and treats each other in ways that are considered offensive by those members of the outside world. One of the most prominent examples is his use of the Christian names, given by their ancestors slave owners; and their nicknames. Before each black person narrates they are introduced, "Grant Bello aka Cherry" (41) The Cajuns farmers' changes to the way of life means the destruction of the sugar cane fields. This is turn destroys the old men's pasts.
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