full title A Gathering of Old Men
author Ernest J. Gaines
type of work Novel
genre African-American novel; Southern novel; American modern novel
time and place written Southwestern Louisiana, 1980–1982
date of first publication 1983
publisher Alfred A. Knopf
narrator There are fifteen different narrators in the novel. They are: Snookum, Janey, Miss Merle, Chimley, Mat, Cherry, Clatoo, Lou Dimes, Rufe, Sully, Tee Jack, Rooster, Coot, Sharp, and Dirty Red. Lou Dimes, Sully, and Snookum each narrate more than one chapter.
point of view The fifteen different narrators all describe the events as they see them. These narrators often speak in the first person as they describe their thoughts and ideas. Usually, they speak in the third person about the other characters.
tone The tone varies according to the character that is narrating the section. Each narrator has a unique voice that matches their identity, with appropriate Southern dialects depending on their race and social class. Toward the end of the book, the tone grows more comedic as the author attempts to bring out notions of absurdity in the final battle and the subsequent trial.
tense Present tense, with some history given in the past
setting (time) Late 1970s.
setting (place) The Marshall Plantation located near the town of Bayonne in Southwestern Louisiana.
protagonist Candy Marshall
major conflict The discovery of who killed Beau Bauton and how justice will be served.
rising action The gathering of the men at the plantation, the meeting between Gil Bauton and his father Fix, the preparation of Luke Will and his crew at a local bar.
climax The confession of Charlie and the arrival of Luke Will and his crew for a lynching
falling action The refusal of Sheriff Mapes or Charlie to give in, the shootout between blacks and whites, the death of Charlie and Luke Will, the trial
themes Redefining black manhood; Changes in social and economic status; Racial interdependence
motifs Double consciousness; Social distinctions in race; Storytelling
symbols Tractor; Sugar cane; Guns
foreshadowing Beau's initial murder, everyone's expectation of Fix's arrival, Candy's appeal for the gathering of old men