A Gathering of Old Men Summary: Everything You Need to Know

If you are searching for a summary of Ernest J. Gaines’ novel, A Gathering of Old Men, then you are in the right place! In this article, we will provide you with a detailed overview of the book.

The story is centered around a Louisiana sugarcane plantation where a white farmer is killed in self-defense by a black man. In an unexpected twist, a group of elderly black men step forward and admit responsibility for the act, leading to a confrontation with the sheriff.

Meanwhile, the young owner of the plantation must navigate her own conflicted feelings towards the people involved in the incident.

According to en.wikipedia.org, “The story follows the events that ensue after a white farmer, who harbors discriminatory views, is killed in a case of self-defense at a Louisiana sugarcane plantation. In a surprising turn of events, a group of elderly black men voluntarily come forward to claim responsibility for the act.

As the sheriff grills the suspects, the young owner of the plantation remains resolute in her staunch defense of the elderly men” This novel is a compelling exploration of race relations in the South and a powerful commentary on justice and identity. We hope this summary has intrigued you and encouraged you to read the book for yourself!

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A Gathering of Old Men is a novel written by Ernest J. Gaines that tells the story of a Louisiana sugarcane plantation where a white farmer is killed in self-defense. The novel focuses on the aftermath of the crime and the issues of race, identity, and justice that emerge within this small Southern community during the 1970s.

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The novel has been praised for its exploration of complicated race relations and its powerful and thought-provoking message.


In “A Gathering of Old Men” by Ernest J. Gaines, the story revolves around a murder of a white man on a Louisiana plantation and the subsequent gathering of old black men who come forward to take responsibility for the killing. The novel’s main characters include Candy Marshall, the white female plantation owner; Gilbert, Candy’s husband who is away on business; Mapes, the white sheriff investigating the murder; Janey, the elderly black woman who contacts the other old black men to come forward; and the various old black men who confess to the murder.


A Gathering of Old Men, originally titled “The Revenge of Old Men,” explores several key themes including racial tension and injustice, the struggle for identity and belonging, the complexities of responsibility and guilt, and the power of unity and collective action. The story follows a group of elderly African American men who unite in a show of strength and solidarity at a plantation to stand up against racial discrimination and violence.

Throughout the novel, Gaines examines the complex and often fraught relationships between different members of the community, as well as the broader societal pressures that shape their lives and experiences.


A Gathering of Old Men is a significant novel as it tackles the issue of racial inequality in America during the 1970s. It highlights the struggle of black men asserting their own power and agency despite societal constraints.

The story is set in a Louisiana plantation where a black man who killed a racist work supervisor named Beau Boutan is shielded by a white plantation owner named Candy Marshall.

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As per www.supersummary.com, the novel was written by Ernest J. Gaines in 1983 and is a powerful example of Afro-American literature.

A Gathering of Old Men Summary

A Gathering of Old Men is a novel about a group of aged African American men who gather at a plantation in Louisiana after a white farmer is shot in self-defense. These men, who previously had seen themselves as powerless against racism and oppression, come forward to claim responsibility for the killing and refuse to be intimidated by the white sheriff who tries to force a confession from them.

The novel portrays the men as asserting their agency and power, despite societal constraints, and explores themes of race, identity, and justice.


A Gathering of Old Men is a novel that revolved around a group of elderly black men who stood up against racism in rural Louisiana. The story is told from multiple perspectives and focuses on themes of identity, power, and responsibility.

The novel highlights how collective action can bring about change and justice, and how even those who have been marginalized can find their voice in the face of adversity.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a gathering of old men summary?

A Gathering of Old Men is a tale of racial tensions set in a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s where a black man is accused of killing a Cajun farmer. The novel depicts the old men coming together and redefining black masculinity.

What is the main message of gathering of old men?

The main theme of A Gathering of Old Men is the redefinition of black masculinity, action, and self-realization.

What is the tone of a gathering of old men?

The tone of A Gathering of Old Men is honest and straight-forward to allow readers to reach their own conclusions about the characters and their actions.

Who is Sully in a gathering of old men?

Sully or Thomas Vincent Sullivan is not a character in A Gathering of Old Men.

Jonathan B. Delfs

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