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A Gathering of Old Men

A Gathering of Old Men

4.4 27
by Ernest J. Gaines

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Beau Boutan, a Cajun farmer, is shot dead. Candy Marshall, the headstrong young plantation owner, tells everyone that she killed Beau. But when the sheriff arrives, he finds a dozen aging black men each claiming to have done the deed.

The sheriff fails to break the circle of protection thrown around the real murderer. He realizes that these men are not afraid of


Beau Boutan, a Cajun farmer, is shot dead. Candy Marshall, the headstrong young plantation owner, tells everyone that she killed Beau. But when the sheriff arrives, he finds a dozen aging black men each claiming to have done the deed.

The sheriff fails to break the circle of protection thrown around the real murderer. He realizes that these men are not afraid of Boutan family vengeance, and welcome a chance to get even after whole lifetimes of oppression.

"Ernest J. Gaines makes it clear that dignity and fortitude are virtues available to men and women of all races at all times...profound and moving." (B-O-T Editorial Review Board)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Gaines knows how to tell a story. . . . [He writes] with humor, a strong sense of drama and a compassionate understanding of people who find themselves in opposing positions.” —Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

"Poignant, powerful, earthy . . . a novel of Southern racial confrontation in which a group of elderly black men band together against whites who seek vengeance for the murder of one of their own." —Booklist

“Early in this eloquent novel . . . a sheriff is summoned to a sugarcane plantation, where he finds one young white woman, about eighteen old black men, and one dead Cajun farmer.  The sheriff is sure he knows who killed the Cajun—although each of the men is toting a shotgun only one of them could hit a barn door—but threats and slaps fail to change their stories.  Each one claims guilt, and all but one promise to provoke a riot at the courthouse if the sheriff tries to make an arrest.  In the meantime, they wait for a lynch mob that the dead man's father—like the son, a notorious brute—is sure to launch. . . . Before it is over, everyone involved has been surprised by something; the old black men not least of all, by their first taste of power and pride.” —The New Yorker

“A fine novel . . . there is a denouement that will shock and move readers as much as it does the characters, and a multiplicity of themes that raises a simple tale to grand signfiicance.” —David Bradley, Philadelphia Inquirer

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.91(d)

Meet 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. 26 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).
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Gathering Of Old Men show how strong Afican-Americans were.It shows you how they had courage. In the story you will find out innocent people want to be guilty. The book shows you a very strong religious connection that the people had with Jesus. This book is about how a Cajun man that has always done wrong by blacks end up dead. It tells you in a realistic way some of the pain they suffered because of this man. You will find out that what the black men do on the scene of the crime. Your emotions to the story may differ. There are lots of sad moments and rejoicing moments in the novel.The book showed will show you that even though something may seem right, it may still be the right thing to do. A Gathering of Old Men gives you something to be grateful for today. It gives you a good outlook of the past of the different cultures.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was WONDERFUL! It gave you a good outlook on race relations as well as finding yourself, the inner person inside of you. I really enjoyed this novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about three African American men that don't quite fit in with the white society.I belive that this book is a great example of how things have changed over the years in terms of racism.They kept fighting for whats right.I personaly like the book because it shows how all of us have learned to believe that its the way a person is inside and not the color of there skin.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a southerner I was completely moved by this book's racial tensions. The book was very realistic. My one criticism is that it was a slow read for me. The last 15-20 pages were faster paced and a roller coaster of emotions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has some solid qualities to it. It is well written, Ernest J. Gaines having captured the spirit of the south. The story also adds to the quality of this book, being a racially charged plot makes it all too realistic. A Gathering of Old Men will also eat up a hefty chunk of time. However this is the books main problem. The large majority of the book is a repetitive drudge, with noting happening for a solid 50 pages. However even the dullest of events can be spiceed up, and thats what Gaines manages to pull off. It is far from fast paced, but unless that is your most desired quality in a book, A Gathering of Old Men is a book to be considered.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an enjoyment to read. It brought me into the story...I could read for hours without wanting to stop. One of the best books of all time. You have to read it to know what I'm talkin about.