A Gathering of Old Men
In the novel A Gathering of Old Men, Ernest J. Gaines, portrays the
Novel through the eyes of individual narrators involved on the events of the day. The novel focuses on a group of cowardly black men who finally stop running and stand up for themselves and years of suffering. There is great difference between the narration of the black and white people. The black men grow through the novel and become individuals and depict their inner pain. The Cajuns do not see nor realize the years of pain and guilt that the black men have carried with them. The story illustrates two worlds, the inner world is the life in Marshall Quarters, the old black men and their family; the outer world being everything outside the Quarters, Fix, the Cajuns, and even the white people.
The blacks have an inner family that has experienced similar hardships and treats each other in ways that are considered offensive by those members of the outside world. One of the most prominent examples is his use of the Christian names, given by their ancestors slave owners; and their nicknames. Before each black person narrates they are introduced, "Grant Bello aka Cherry." Throughout the entire novel all black people have a nickname in which they only allow the "inner world" to refer to them. When Yank is confessing the crime of killing Beau Griffin begins to take down the name "Yank. Y-a-n-" and is corrected "Sylvester J. Battly . Be sure to spell Sylvester and Battly right, if you can" (99). The name he wants printed to the outside world is his real name, not the silly nickname his inner ring of friends refer to him as. These nicknames they find harmless by their peers, are offensive by others. When Charlie comes back, now a man, he wants "to have a handle, too-like Mister. Mr. Biggs" (187). This demonstrates the two distinct worlds of the blacks and whites. The nicknames are offensive if spoken by those outside their world.
There are continuous examples t