A Gathering of Old Men

A Gathering of Old Men

by Ernest J. Gaines


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A powerful depiction of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer at the hands of a black man—set on a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s.

The Village Voice called A Gathering of Old Men “the best-written novel on Southern race relations in over a decade.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679738909
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/1992
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 81,884
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.58(d)
Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Ernest Gaines was born on a plantation in Pointe Coupée Parish near New Roads, Louisiana, which is the Bayonne of all his fictional works. He is writer-in-residence emeritus at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 1993 Gaines received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for his lifetime achievements. In 1996 he was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France’s highest decorations. He and his wife, Dianne, live in Oscar, Louisiana.

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Gathering of Old Men 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Jonath0n More than 1 year ago
This story begins on the Marshall Plantation in Bayonne, Louisiana. Beau Bauton has just been murdered. He was the plantation¿s Cajun boss. Bauton¿s body was discovered near Mathu¿s house by Candy Marshall, the partial owner of the plantation. Candy suspects that Mathu did murder Beau Bauton, but she wants to protect him. Mathu took care of Candy when she was a child and is somewhat like a father to her, so she tries to protect him. Everyone on the plantation is called to meet at Mathu¿s house. Candy confesses to the murder, but no one believes her. About eighteen black men are gathered to the scene of the crime with twelve gauge shotguns and empty shells. With everyone confessing to the crime, Candy hopes that the local sheriff cannot solve the crime.

Not only do the people expect the sheriff to appear, they also fear that Fix Bauton
will also come. Fix is a local Cajun that is known for leading lynch mobs against the blacks in that area. Everyone expects him to come to seek revenge, especially because Beau is his son. Lou Dimes, Candy¿s boyfriend, and Sheriff Mapes appear on the plantation. Lou Dimes is a well educated journalist from Baton Rouge that tries to help with the situation. He is kind of an outcast since he is the only one that received a formal education. As soon as the sheriff arrives, he orders his deputies to find Fix and keep him off the plantation. Then, he questions each man differently and uses physical force during the interrogation. He is surprised to see that each man is committed to confess to the murder. The story continues with more men confessing and the arrival of some other people. Many events also occur toward the end of the novel.

I enjoyed reading this book because it gave me a sense of historical reference. There was and still is prejudice and racism present in our world today. The book also had suspense to it and other things that I did not expect. Most stories are predictable but this one kept the reader wondering what would happen next. It was very interesting to see how the story unfolded.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the best books I have ever read. It depicts the racism and prejudice during those times. The beginning of the book may not grab your attention, but as you continue reading the book, you will understand how great the story actually is. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in African-American history or diversity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'A Gathering of Old Men' was it a great book? Sure it is! A white man is killed on a Lousiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970's. Who did it? One person claims to the crime and another and another.....A whtie girl claims she did it and 18 black old men claim the same. I would be very confused wouldn't you?! I don't think there would be anybody who wasn't.Racism is an issue in this book. Will they beleive Candy,the white female, did it or not? Will the sheriff accuse one of black men of the crime because he's black? Read 'A Gathering of Old Men' to find out who the real murderer is? Who knows right? With that many people;it will seem like ages before the crime gets solved!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is written very well, so is the dialogue of that setting. i espessialy love the way it is wtitten, every chapter is told from the point of view of a different character. This book is fantastic, i would recomend it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ernest J. Gaines did it this time with a Gathering of Old Men. A murder mystery about racial tensions over the death of a Cajun farmer. As blacks fight to save their own. The whites fight to seek vengence for the murder of their own. Gaines makes you sit on the egde of your sit,wondering about whats going to happen next. Cliffhanger after Cliffhanger. Gaines make's you feel as if your sitting with the characters down in the quarters. His characters are like real people and talk real talk. A Gathering is a riviting novel that will keep you asking for more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿A Gathering of Old Men¿ is a very realistic and moving novel. The themes of the book focus on the prejudices that plagued the deep southern United States even into the late 1970¿s. Interview-like monologues walk us through the events of a day in which a Cajun farmer, Beau Boutan is killed by a black man, though which black man no one is sure because all of the old black men from the surrounding plantations have teamed up to say they themselves are guilty of the crime so as to protect their black pride. It is through these monologues that Ernest J. Gaines so eloquently reveals the appalling traditions and perceptions of obviously deeply impressioned people. Also through these monologues, Gaines uncovers intensive relationships among families, friends, and enemies. I would definitely recommend ¿A Gathering of Old Men¿ to anyone who reads. It is an excellent, intelligent novel that was composed by a well-written and well-researched author. Due to the ¿home-grown¿ dialect that the book is written in, the reader is able to taste every aspect of the plantation-heart of which Louisiana boasts. One can savor the humidified heat, the sun, the hard work on the plantation. One can feel the laid-back atmosphere and seething hate prejudice carries to the St. Raphael¿s Parish residents. The picturesque language and overall witty and clever story line combine to create a thoroughly enjoyable and tantalizing novel. Written in an easy to follow chronology at a fast pace, all readers will be able to engorge themselves in this perfect example of southern life in the United States. An air of triumph concludes the novel in a wholly satisfying way, leaving the reader soundly resolute. Traditional ignorance both frustrates and enhances the reader, as this book gives us initiative to join the race against prejudice. Brilliant, piquant tongue and moving, emotional details radiate from the pages of ¿A Gathering of Old Men.¿ Though the book is a little difficult to understand in the beginning because of dialect, the reader soon falls into the groove the book offers, making it a quick, fanciful read. This book is recommended to anyone who wants the traditional story of the battle between good and evil told from both the good and the evil side. This novel offers a twist and a change from custom, and is written in a truly unique style. Ernest Gaines offers a message that everyone, young and old, should hear and consider about the ignorance of prejudice. This book is truly revolutionary and is absolutely charming and beautiful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Ernest Gaines' novel, A Gathering of Old Men, the author presents a cast of aging Southern black men who, after a life of subordination and intimidation, make a defiant stand against injustices. The story takes place on an Lousiana sugar cane plantation in the 1970's. The novel tells of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer, who has supposedly been killed at the hands of a black man, Mathu. Mathu must face the repercussions of killing a white man, and, at the same time, being black. That repercussion is to be lynched. All of the residents, who are predominantly black, take a stand to help their fellow neighbor. With the help of one white woman, Candy, who was raised by Mathu, they take a stand to end the injustices of segregation. This is a great novel to read. The book will shock and move you with its tremendous array of characters, as you get to know the characters' sides of the story, and the different conflicts that are raised. Those conflicts are presented as you walk in the characters' shoes. This novel was outstanding and deserves all five stars. It will surely have you at the edge of your seat, not wanting to quit reading until you've reached the end, where you'll be in for a suprise as the story takes a sudden twist.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a ninth grader from Poulsbo Junior High and for my Honors English class we had to read a book and write an essay on it. One of the choices was 'A Gathering of Old Men'. At once I was pulled into the realistic story and the life of the characters. This book shows how prejudice white people really were against black people in the 1970's, set in a rural town. If you like American History during and after slavery then you will really enjoy this book, and if not...then you should try it anyways because you might like it! I loved it and I am sure most anyone who reads it will love it too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not an often reader of books, but a first time hit with this one. A 2000 summer reading project for my last year in highschool has opened me up to a great book. The format in wich Mr. Gaines has writen this story, really makes you feel like your next to the character talking to them as you've known them for years, a story to feel involved and one to touch your heart. To tall thumbs up ( if you have time to put the book down).
Magadri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for my Intro to Fiction course and honestly, I had the hardest time getting into it. There are so many characters, many sharing similar names, that it is exhausting trying to keep up with them all. The story premise is engaging, but the style in which it was written made it hard for me to stay involved.
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Destined to be one of my top reads for 2012, this is a powerful tale of the deep south and the terrible bigotry that existed in the 1970's.When a son of the local, powerful white racist is killed, it takes a strong white woman to gather the old black men to rally.When each man arrives on the porch, gun in hand, they await the sheriff and the local near do wells who will seek revenge.When the sheriff demands to know who is to blame, each and every older gentleman claims he was the culprit.Each chapter, excellently, compellingly written from the perspective of each man, tells a tale of subjugation at the hands of the white racists and the need to finally take a stand against intolerance and evil.There is power in this book-- mighty, mighty power.Highly recommended!!
nittnut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A white man is murdered by a black man, and to protect the murderer, the woman who owns the former plantation where the murder took place determines to muddy the waters. She invites the old men who live on her land and nearby to come with the identical gun and shells. They come, but in addition, they choose that they will no longer be intimidated or abused by the white men. They decide they are willing to be beaten, go to jail, or perhaps even die before they will be less than men. Each chapter tells the next part of the story from a different person's point of view. Instead of being confusing, the narrative is deepened and intensified by the changing points of view. Knowing who you are, no matter what other people think you are or treat you as can change your life, can change the world.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It¿s like "The Magnificent Seven" transformed into The Geriatric Eighteen. It is both comedic and tragic, and I believe it deserves its status as a classic of recent American literature.The story takes place on one day in the late seventies on a former plantation in Louisiana, now run by 30-year-old Candy Marshall. Candy¿s parents died in a car wreck when she was very young, so she was raised by Miss Merle ¿ the mistress of a neighboring plantation, and Mathu, an old black man ¿ now 82 - on Candy¿s plantation. Candy has come to Mathu's, and finds him holding an empty shotgun, with the plantation's white Cajun farmer, Beau Boutan, lying dead nearby. Candy sends out an alert for everyone to come to Mathu¿s yard right away and bring spent twelve-gauge shotguns and number five shells. She believes Mathu has killed Beau Boutan, who was a cruel, racist man that no one likes. But Beau¿s father ¿Fix¿ is even worse. There has never been an incident of a black man killing a white man in this parish before, and it is thought by everyone that Fix and his cohorts will come out to the plantation in short order for a lynching. When Sheriff Mapes arrives, what he discovers is that not only is Candy claiming she killed Beau, but everyone else is too. These are men in their seventies and eighties, who had never stood up to the white man before, who had spent their lifetimes enduring insults, beatings, and killings in their families. Now they were ready to take a stand. But some of their wives are there at Mathu¿s too, and they participate as well. As each of the men and women who have gathered at Mathu¿s testifies to the sheriff why he or she had justification to kill Beau, they reveal the history of the hurt that characterized their lives as blacks in the Deep South. Beuleh, one of the old men¿s wives, is telling why she killed Beau when she is interrupted by Sheriff Mapes: ¿You¿re talking about thirty-five, forty, fifty years ago, Beulah. ¿ And you got no proof Fix was mixed up in that.¿ Beulah lashes out at him:"`Now, ain¿t that just like white folks?¿ Beulah said to us, but still looking at Mapes. `Black people get lynched, get drowned, get shot, guts all hanging out ¿ and here he come up with ain¿t no proof who did it. The proof was them two little children laying there in them two coffins. That¿s proof enough they was dead. And let¿s don¿t be getting off into that thirty-five, forty, fifty years ago stuff, either. Things ain¿t changed that much round here. In them demonstrations, somebody was always coming up missing. So let¿s don¿t be putting it all on no thirty-five, forty, fifty years ago like everything is so nicey-nicey now. No, his seeds is still around. Even if he is old now, the rest of them had their hands in some of that dirt.¿Fifteen different narrators tell this story, beginning with the voice of a child, Snookum. Gaines¿ ability to assume so realistically the voices of old, young, black, white, male, and female is an incredible tour de force; each voice has its own distinctive tone, nuance, dialect, and vocabulary ¿ and these are so distinct he makes you feel as if you can actually hear each and every one. The eighteen men, the women, Candy, Mapes, and some others, all sit on the porch at Mathu's and wait for ¿the riders,¿ whom they feel sure will be out to exact vengeance when night falls.Discussion: In the book, none of the main characters speaks as a narrator. Rather, impressions of them and of their motives are provided by the other speakers. Further, each person¿s story is given to Mapes as if testifying in church. It¿s a wonderful narrative technique that reflects aspects of the storytelling tradition where Gaines grew up. And while the old men, who can hardly see and barely aim make an uproariously funny grouping, they also make a gloriously courageous panorama, as they get ready to die at last as men, for their principles.
Schmerguls on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This 1983 novel is the fourth novel of Gaines' I have read, and I appreciated it less than the others. It told a dramatic story of a killing in Louisiana of a white bully by a black man. A large number of old black men gather and each asserts he killed the bully. The sheriff is fearful of a lynching. The story is full of drama but then kind of disintegrates into a shoot-out not very engaging, so the ending did not live up to the earlier drama of the book.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fast engaging read that draws you in. It's a good classroom text that everyone can understand (even reading fairly quickly), especially if you want to discuss the Civil Rights Movement or race relations in the 20th Century. Beyond this issues, it is an easy read which you might well find yourself flying through in one sitting. If you do enjoy it, also, pick up some other works by Gaines--particularly A Lesson Before Dying is another worthwhile read. I can't really recommend this book highly enough, so I'll stop here, but A Gathering of Old Men is one of those books that you know people will be reading decades from now, not just for its themes and ideas, but for the beauty and simplicity of the characters and prose as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this a wolf/cat/whatever rp?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I say res 13 is MLP central and the rule for the unicorns is that no one is aloud to curse the other ponies there, including pegasi and earth ponies and no magic duels allowed unless its a mock duel and your not doing any real damage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How do you know about the Z.O.R.
Newbie97 More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very interesting, in that It had wonderful descriptions and a good plot and everything, but I just didnt like the ending. If the ending was different, It would get five stars.
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avid-readerJG More than 1 year ago
I loved the story. The characters have so much depth. And, while the subject is serious, some of it is very funny. I can just see those guns being shot through roofs and so on, during the final confused play off. This book has everything.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a well written book and I enjoyed it very much. It makes you pay attention to what's going on in your own world because we do see the same aspect of racism every day of our lives. Who would not be able to enjoy this book of a group of men, with only the memories of how great the 'old' days were and to see them stand up for another black man because they realize he stood up for all blacks so many times before. This work of companionship shown a light onto my heart. I highly recommend this book to someone out there looking for a heart touching story.