A Gathering of Old Men Quotes


"Mapes was a lot of things. He was big, mean, brutal. But Mapes respected a man. Mathu was a man, and Mapes respected Mathu."


Honor is the primary currency between the male characters of the story. Despite his reputation as an oppressive overseer, Mapes is treated honorably because he valued honor himself. He would beat a man for being black, but he would not beat a man who confessed to a wrongdoing of his own accord.

"'That's what y'all come here for?' he asked. 'To die? Y'all think that'll make up for all the hurt? That's what y'all think?"'


Reverend Jameson does not approve of the entire investigation. He has seen many an innocent man die at the hands of a bloodthirsty mob, so he's not really interested in involving third parties in the affairs of the plantation. When Alex and his crew arrive, they inspire true terror in the plantation hands who are defending Mathu.

"When it comes to the kind of dirt been slung in this Black woman's face -- yes, sir, Sheriff, I reckon I do know more than you do."


Beulah is another of the plantation hands. She stands up to the sheriff in a way that none of the men would ever dare. Fearing no mean, she tells the sheriff that he's barking up the wrong tree. She has seen enough of the world to know that nothing good comes from such a brash and thoughtless investigation.

'"I killed the son of a b***h,' she said. 'That's what I'm going to tell Mapes, what I'm going to tell the radio, what I'm going to give television. I killed that son of a b***c.'"


Candy is eager to protect all of her hands. She's willing to deflect the sheriff and Fix' anger by drawing attention to herself, taking the blame for the murder. Unfortunately this is more of an emotional response than a logical one, seeing as she has no motive or witnesses and a clear alibi.

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