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.