Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Narrator Point of View

By Ernest J. Gaines

Narrator Point of View

First-Person (Peripheral Narrator) + First-Person (Central Narrator)

From the time we're with Snookum when he sees Beau's body out in front of Mathu's house, to that last bitter-sweet second when we're watching Mathu and his pals drive away from the courthouse in Clatoo's pick-up, Gaines wants us right smack in the middle of the action in his novel. That's one of the reasons why Gaines uses a nifty combination of narrators who tell us a little bit about themselves or their own experiences

For example, when we're with Mat, he talks to his wife about why he's helping Mathu. And there are other characters who do a lot more talking about other people in the novel, like Lou Dimes, Sully, or old Rufe. It makes what's going on seem a whole lot more immediate and real.

It also allows Gaines to ratchet up the suspense or to make us start asking questions, kind of like when Lou notices all of the old men heading to the back of Mathu's place but he just assumes they're all taking turns using the outhouse. What they're actually doing, of course, is loading live ammo into their shotguns to get ready for a firefight—but we don't find that out until Rooster tells us so.

Along with all of that, it's also important to remember that Gaines's novel is all about people who've never been given a say or allowed to have voice getting their say. That's why Gaines makes the voices of the Black characters so central to his story.