- Количество слайдов: 23
A Gathering of Old Men Ernest J. Gaines
Ernest J. Gaines • Born 1933 on a plantation in Louisiana. • Moved to California with his mother and stepfather in 1948. • Went into army and attended several colleges.
Ernest J. Gaines Cont. • His work has been widely acclaimed for the accuracy with which he captures the language of rural African Americans in the South.
Ernest J. Gaines Cont. • Novel: A Lesson Before Dying was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize – Surprise! Was also an Oprah Book Club selection.
Summary of A Gathering of Old Men • A novel about race relations in the American South, the action takes place over the course of one day in rural Louisiana. A white man has been shot dead and lies in the yard of a Black man’s house. Eighteen old, Black men gather at the house and each claims that he is responsible for the killing.
Summary Cont. • The white sheriff conducts an investigation as the old men await the revenge of the dead man’s relatives. By the end of the day, there are many surprises and many characters have changed in ways that they could not have predicted when they work up that morning.
Structure/Point of View • 20 short chapters • 15 different narrators (10 Black characters, 5 white characters) • Uses Black dialect and standard English • Uses direct and indirect characterization • Primarily first person narration
Historical Context • Lynching: – 2, 805 documented lynchings between 1882 and 1930 in 10 southern states. – 90% of the victims were African Americans. • Averages to about 1 per week during the years mentioned. • Many victims were tortured and mutilated before their deaths and parts of their bodies were sold as souvenirs.
Lynching Cont. • The 4 states with the worst records were: – Mississippi (463) – Georgia (423) – Louisiana (283) – Alabama (262) *In Pointed Coupee parish, where Gaines grew up, there were 6 lynchings between 18811908. The last recorded lynching in the U. S. was in 1968.
Lynching Cont. • Reasons: – – – – – Murder, robbery and rape Acting suspiciously Gambling, quarreling, adultery Acting improperly with a white woman Arguing with a white man Being obnoxious Insulting a white man or woman Demanding respect Trying to vote Voting for the wrong party
Decline of lynching/mob violence • Declined after World War II (1945) • Ku Klux Klan membership declined – By 1950, Klan consisted mostly of poorly educated white people
Civil Rights: 1950 -1960 • New era of race relations in the South • Secured voting and other rights • Made discrimination illegal – However, in rural South, change was VERY slow. – And, African Americans did not always have full protection of the law.
Today • Racial Justice: Alabama and Mississippi are now the two states with the highest number of African Americans elected to government office.
Today Cont. • Capital Punishment: experts regard death penalty as unfair because it affects black people disproportionately. – Those executed for interracial murder, only 11 were white people who killed Black people – 167 were Black people who killed white people.
Today Cont. • Lynching/racial violence: – Although rare, incidents of racial violence still take place. • In 1998, James Byrd, a black man in Jasper, TX, dies after being chained to a truck and dragged behind it by three white men.
Themes: Racism • Racism: – Novel takes place in late 1970’s. – Many still suffered from discrimination and abuse for several generations. – White people use “nigger”. – The law looks the other way or accepts “white” version of events.
Theme: Attaining Manhood • When the old Black men decide to stand up for themselves after a lifetime in which they have endured humiliation and abuse, they finally become men in their own eyes, earning their own dignity.
Theme: Interdependence • Races cannot succeed working independent of each other.
Theme: Race inside of Race • The white people separate themselves from the Cajun white people. • The Black people separate themselves based on the darkness of their skin.
Theme: Change • Change habits of a lifetime • Almost all characters go through some form of change
Symbols • • Tractor Sugar Cane Guns Graveyard
Main Characters • Candy Marshall: Protagonist, tries to protect the accused (Mathu) • Beau Bauton: Dead, important due to his symbolic role; represents social order that has subjugated Black people throughout history; linked to the violence of the past.
Main Characters Cont. • Sheriff Mapes: 60 yrs old, white, seems to be a classic racist, but is more complex; capable of understanding and change. • Mathu: lives on property, accused of crime, most believe he killed Beau.