Study Guide

The Boutan Clan in A Gathering of Old Men

By Ernest J. Gaines

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The Boutan Clan

When we finally roll up to the Boutan homestead with Sully and Gil, we meet—very briefly—a good handful of characters, including Doucette, Beau's widow, and Beau's kid (called "Tee Beau," meaning Beau, Jr.). The Boutan folks you really need to remember are Alfonze, Auguste, and Claude. They're all Gil's uncles, and it just so happens that Alfonze is Gil's godfather. These old men represent the old force of evil connected to the plantation times that the Major, Mrs. Bea, and Miss Merle represent. And, as the owners of the plantations get old and die off, it's men like the Boutans—the Cajuns—who're taking over the land, getting more and more powerful. 

Then there's Jean. He's another one of Gil's brothers, the only one in the room who agrees with Gil when it comes to how the family should deal with Beau's murder. Taking into account Fix's awful reputation and the power he clearly has over everybody in his family, the fact that only two people making their own opinions heard keeps Fix from acting out shows us that, as hard as it might be, if everybody takes a stand against racism and the evils it creates, you can put a stop to it. And that is one heck of a powerful message. 

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