Study Guide

Luke Will's Gang in A Gathering of Old Men

By Ernest J. Gaines

Luke Will's Gang

Super-short on brains and extra-long on blind and irrational racist hate, Luke Will's buddies Alcee, Henry, Sharp, and Leroy (the youngest one of the bunch) are about as worthless as worthless gets. Fortunately, though, we don't have to spend a lot of time with any of them because they all get introduced to us when the novel is more or less over. 

Backward-thinking redneck bigot that he is, we personally don't think that Tee Jack is good for much, but he does give us a quick look at the kinds of evil things that Luke and his buddies do on a pretty regular basis, and usually because they've been given orders and some cash for following them (according to rumors). Tee Jack doesn't beat around the bush when he tells us about Luke and his pals: 

Luke Will and Sharp Thompson were truck drivers for the Dixie Gravel, Cement, and Dirt Company of Bayonne. The other three with them worked for the same company. On the side, they did other little jobs to keep things running smoothly in the parish. Like turning over n***** school buses, throwing a few snakes into n***** churches during prayer meetings, or running n*****s out of what used to be all-white motels and restaurants. (13.41) 

Now, given that Tee Jack is an incredibly warped human being, he probably honestly thinks doing that kind of stuff is the same as building the parish a new playground, or helping an old lady across the street. We know better. It's terrible. And the people who do these things are terrible people. Like Luke himself, his low-down and no-good pals and their racist attitudes represent not only how dangerous those attitudes are, but that they die hard—if they die at all.