Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Allusions

By Ernest J. Gaines

Allusions

Literary and Philosophical References

  • William Faulkner: The big daddy of the literature of the American South, Faulkner's novels—like As I Lay Dying or The Sound and the Fury—often tell stories by putting the reader right inside the mind of a specific character or aligning the reader with the perspective of a particular character for the length of a chapter. Gaines uses this Faulknerian approach in his own unique way to bring voices of different characters together in A Gathering of Old Men. (throughout)
  • The Red Badge of Courage (8.212)
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder (10.56): a sixteenth-century Flemish painter known for his renderings of peasants, peasant life, and the rural Northern European countryside

Historical References

  • Mat's middle name is Lincoln, as in Abraham Lincoln (Giving a newly born child a part of Abraham Lincoln's name was not uncommon among newly freed former slaves.)
  • Slavery and the Antebellum South (Gaines sets his novel at a time when slavery's been gone for more than a century, but its memory and troubling legacy linger on.)
  • The Napoleonic Code of 1804 (Enacted by Napoleon Bonaparte of France, many of its laws are still on the books in Louisiana, including the use of branding and the severing of hands and limbs as punishment, and the classification of rape as an offense punishable by death. This last statute is why Gable's son is wrongly executed for allegedly raping a white woman. Usually, these harsher parts of the code are not enforced.) (9.160-5)
  • World War I (9.189)
  • World War II (9.189)
  • The Korean War (9.189)
  • The Vietnam War (9.189)
  • The Ku Klux Klan (Luke and his buddies work for them, and the organization actually pays for the lawyer to represent the white folks who tried to terrorize Marshall's Black community.) (Chapter 12 and after)
  • Black Nationalist Movement (20.3)
  • The NAACP (20.3)
  • The American Nazi Party (20.3)

Pop Culture References

  • The Twilight Zone (10.56)
  • The Brooklyn Dodgers (5.58)
  • LSU Football (Gil, Sully, and Cal play for Louisiana State University)