A Gathering Of Old Men By Ernest J. Gaines

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The past is never completely forgotten and in A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines, this statement is proven true. Set in the 1970s in central Louisiana on the tail-end of the Civil Rights and Jim Crow eras, this novel by Gaines reflects on the struggle between past traditions and a new world order. The setting presented directly correlates to the theme of change in the novel and how broader societal changes affect the characters’ actions. By examining the significance of the theme of change in the novel and how it plays out in the motivation and continuance of the plot, the reader can see what the consequences of a large shift in societal thinking can have on a community. In A Gathering of Old Men, most readers would agree that…show more content…
“I’m interested only in my family. If the majority feels their brother is not worth it, then the family has spoken. I’m only interested in my family” (Gaines 145). In this passage, the ideological differences between generations become very apparent. The philosophical differences between Fix and his son, Gil, can be attributed to three things—time, education, and exposure to different groups of people. Fix and Beau are uneducated Cajuns that farm the land with tractors, however this contrasts with Gil, who is pursuing an education at LSU. Because of his higher education and sports background, Gil has had to work with many different groups of people, which then bred tolerance within him and ultimately led to his change in ideals. Like Gil and Fix, a similar metamorphosis occurs in the character of Charlie. Even though Charlie is one of the most important characters, he does not appear until the last few chapters of the novel. In his own words, Charlie describes his change: He cussed me. I was doing my work good. Cussed me anyhow. I told him he didn’t need to cuss me like that. I told him I was doing my work good. He told me he wouldn’t just cuss me, but he would beat me, too. I told him no, I wasn’t go’n ‘low that no more, ‘cause I was fifty years old—half a hundred. (Gaines 190) He

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