A Gathering of Old Men

Manhood in A Gathering of Old Men College

Manhood in A Gathering of Old Men In his novel, A Gathering of Old Men (1983), Ernest J. Gaines writes about a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s. The plantation’s white, Cajun work boss is shot and seventeen old black men and one white woman each claim to be the killer. These old men have grown up in a time of extreme racism and have been victims of violence and discrimination. Growing up on the plantations, the black men have been seen as boys, instead of men their entire lives. Until now, they have been afraid to take a stand and establish their manhood in a society that has thought of them as subordinates. Each man recounts that at some point in his life, he was unable to stand up for himself or a loved one against unjust treatment by a white person. The white men and women feel that they are superior to African Americans, viewing them as their dependents because of their ownership of land and slave like possession over them. In A Gathering of Old Men, Gaines reveals that through the possession of land and people, white men were able to take the black man’s sense of manhood. Gaines then proceeds by overturning this lack of manhood by reconstructing the view of masculinity for black males. The black males progress...

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