The novel The Gathering of Old Men written by African-American author is at first glance a detective story, but as events unfold, the reader begins to realize how complicated the relations between blacks and whites are in this southern wilderness. Behind the long battle poisoned by racism of white Southerners and black folk is wider circle of problems and conflicts. The heroine of the novel, who has lived a long life and remembers the days of slavery, embodies resistance, hard work, and vitality of black Americans.
The primary theme in the novel is the redefinition of black masculinity. The novel is a story about action and self-actualization. The old men who get together at the plantation have spent their days running away from troubles. After years of a racist system, they have developed ideas they stand up for. The changes they want to happen are perfectly illustrated by Charlie, who is considered to be weak. But by the end of the novel, Charlie’s character has changed. After killing Beau, he becomes the bravest man in the fight. The old men want a similar change. They show their strength by helping Mathu, telling their stories, and fighting with the whites. By the end of the novel, all of them reasserted their manhood and humanity.
The existence of racial interdependence is especially obvious in the combination of Salt and Pepper, football players. Their success relies on the cooperation with one another. Their need for joint playing is a metaphor for the whole South and the entire country. In order to be successful the races need to work together.
The narration of the novel is done by black characters, which demonstrates the popular existence of double consciousness. The concept is about American blacks having one identity for themselves and one identity for whites. The public individuals of old men in the novel silently agreed to their subjugation. When they are telling the story however, they are showing their spirit and dreams. The idea of dual identities also is represented by the characters’ names. Each of them has two names. Old black men have always lived with these two different selves.
The tractor in the novel symbolizes the agricultural mechanization connected with the growth of Cajun farming. The arrival of the tractor changed traditional means of local black life. It has reduced the need for labor. Blacks who once cared for the land became unemployed.
Like the tractor, the sugar cane symbolizes the way that the Cajuns have transformed the local agriculture. The sugar cane demonstrates the times when the blacks worked on the land and their community thrived.
The novel The Gathering of Old Men written by African-American author is at first glance a detective story, but as events unfold, the reader begins to realize how complicated the relations between blacks and whites are in this southern wilderness. Behind the long battle poisoned by racism of white Southerners and black folk is wider circle of problems and conflicts.