Study Guide

Reverend Jameson in A Gathering of Old Men

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Reverend Jameson

Now, you might be used to clergy folks—people who do what Reverend Jameson does for a living—getting a whole lot of respect. Reverend Jameson, however, is getting a whole lot of… well, the exact opposite. 

On the one hand, you can't help but feel for the Reverend. It's pretty clear that he's just trying, after all, to keep the peace. "This is my place," he tells Candy at one point, adding that "I ain't got no home if they burn it down," which may very well happen if Fix gets the notion to wreak havoc down at Marshall (7.30). 

It's pretty obvious, though, that other folks don't feel the same way he does about things. After Jameson continues to beg for everybody to go home and come to their senses, this little exchange takes place, and it starts with Beulah Jackson: 

"Reverend Jameson, just shut up, Beulah said. "Just shut up. Nobody listening to you; so just shut up. Go on back home like Candy said. Nobody listening to you today."

"Maybe I ought to shoot him," Rooster said. "You think I ought to shoot him, Dirty Red?"

"No, let him slide," Dirty Red said. "He might change 'fore the shooting start." (7.60-62) 

We admit that Beulah, Rooster, and Red are being more than a little mean here, but there's a reason for what's going down. Gaines wants us to get that the "peace" that Jameson wants to keep is really no kind of peace at all—it means letting things stay the way they always have been. That means that the people gathered at Mathu's place will keep on getting harassed and brutalized just because of the color of their skin, and everybody there has had enough of that, even if Jameson doesn't understand what he's really asking for.

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