Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Chapter 10

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Chapter 10

Thomas Vincent Sullivan—a.k.a. "Sully" or "TV"

  • Now we're going to leave the part of Louisiana where all this has been going down and head on over to Louisiana State University (LSU) to meet our new friend, Sully.
  • Sully also happens to be friends with Gil Boutan, Beau's brother. They both play football for LSU together.
  • Gil is one of LSU's star football players. He works really well on the field with another player, named Calvin Harrison, who also happens to be African American.
  • We find out that the publicity team at LSU has come up with the nicknames Salt and Pepper for them (which, yes, is a little racist).
  • As Gil and Sully are walking out of an LSU classroom, Cal mentions to Gil that the coach wants to talk to him and that he doesn't think it's about football.
  • We learn that Sully is no native of Louisiana. He's not even a Southerner.
  • Folks call him "TV" because he's a huge TV nut. Dude loves watching it. (Remember: this was way before Netflix and Hulu.)
  • As Gil is talking to the coach in his office, Cal and Sully start talking about the coming "big game" between LSU and Ole Miss, a nickname for the University of Mississippi, arch-rival of LSU.
  • We discover that the town is already going crazy—it's packed full of visitors from all over the South—and everybody is amped-up for the game.
  • Gil comes out of the office and it's pretty obvious he's upset.
  • He doesn't even seem to see either Sully or Cal as he walks down the hall.
  • Sully and Cal both ask Gil what's going on.
  • Gil finally gets out that he's just learned his brother has been killed.
  • Cal asks what happened. Gil gives him the nastiest look imaginable, like he's thinking about beating him within an inch of his life—or killing him.
  • Sully can't believe what he's seeing. He tries to get Gil to compose himself.
  • It's not really working. A crowd starts to gather and ask questions.
  • Gil makes a break for it, asking Sully if he can borrow his car to drive home.
  • Sully tells Gil that Sully will drive him himself.
  • They get into Sully's car—a Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia (sweet)—and head out.
  • The streets are packed with people. All of them seem to want to talk to Gil.
  • Depressed, Gil keeps his head down. He doesn't talk until he and Sully are on the road that will take Gil home to his family.
  • Still out of it and talking to himself, Gil says he hopes that "none of them" did it.
  • Not sure what he means, Sully asks what's going on.
  • Gil says he's talking about the Black folks who live around Marshall.
  • Sully doesn't say anything out loud, but figures that this explains why Gil reacted to Cal the way he did—because of the color of Cal's skin. This makes Sully pretty angry, but he keeps it to himself.
  • They hit the St. Charles River and drive on the road along it.
  • Before long, Gil and Sully run into Hilly, one of Mapes's deputies.
  • Hilly says that Gil is okay to keep heading toward Marshall. He adds that he'll be rooting for him in the game tomorrow night.
  • Thinking that was something he shouldn't have said, Hilly looks embarrassed.
  • Gil just thanks him and Sully just keeps on driving.
  • As they drive, Sully compares Marshall and where the African American community lives to an old western ghost town.
  • Sully notices a tractor and several cars, one of them belonging to Lou Dimes, and then he sees Deputy Griffin wander on up to the car where he and Gil are sitting. (Sully doesn't know it's Griffin, but we do, based on his description.)
  • Gil and Sully get out of the car.
  • They don't get far before they see that mass of elderly African American men, all holding shotguns. Mapes is beside them, holding his own gun. It stops them dead in their tracks.
  • When the crowd sees Sully and Gil, they lower their guns.
  • After a minute, Sully and Gil keep walking up. Sully says that he is literally right behind Gil. It's pretty clear that he wants to make sure Gil doesn't do anything too crazy.
  • After Mapes acknowledges him, Gil asks where his brother is.
  • Mapes tells him that the body's already been taken to Bayonne.
  • Breaking the silence, Mapes asks Gil if he's on his way home.
  • Gil isn't saying a single thing. Sully can tell he's trying to keep calm and control himself.
  • Mapes lets Gil know that Deputy Russell is in the bayou, keeping Fix and the rest of the family there, because Mapes doesn't want Fix showing up until he sends for him himself.
  • Without waiting for a response from Gil, Mapes says he'll have it all sorted out by sundown.
  • Gil is angry and confused. He asks Mapes if he knows who did it.
  • Mapes says he does, but he can't just take him in because everybody there is saying they did it, and a crowd like this getting brought into town is likely to cause a race riot.
  • Gil asks what Mapes plans to do.
  • All Mapes tells Gil is that he's going to handle it his (Mapes's) way.
  • Gil is still fuming, but keeping it all in. After he finds out for just how long his brother's been dead, he turns to Mathu and asks him if he did it.
  • Mathu says he did, as matter-of-factly as if he knew the answer to a really easy Jeopardy question.
  • Mapes tells Gil that they'll all say the same thing, including Candy. He then, once again, tells Gil to go home.
  • Gil is too confused and angry to move.
  • Putting his hand on Gil's shoulder, Mapes tells him to head on home again.
  • Gil pushes Mapes's hand off and asks Candy what's going down.
  • She tells him the same story that she's told Mapes already.
  • Gil isn't buying it. He doesn't believe that Beau would have tried to kill Charlie.
  • Giving up on Candy, he asks Lou what's going on. Lou says he has no idea.
  • Lou knows Gil is hurting inside. He encourages Sully to take Gil home to see his folks.
  • Sully tries, but Gil just starts laying into Candy, accusing her of always thinking that she was better than Beau and the rest of the family.
  • Candy just looks right through him like he's nothing. She doesn't respond.
  • Gil finally lets Sully get him back to the car.

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