Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Chapter 11

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Chapter 11

Lou Dimes

  • We're back with our good buddy Lou again, and he's as confused as ever about what's going on.
  • He notices that some of the old men seem to be taking turns going to the back of the house and coming back. Nobody else seems to, though.
  • He tries to talk some sense into Candy and encourage her to go home.
  • It doesn't work.
  • Lou gets the feeling that everybody there is waiting for something, but he's not exactly sure what.
  • At a loss for what do to with himself, he goes out back to use the outhouse.
  • He meets one of the elderly men coming back. They nod.
  • Lou says it looks like the outhouse hasn't even been used. Lou just spits in the makeshift toilet and walks out.
  • When he gets back, Candy asks if he saw any spiders.
  • Lou say he only saw a few webs. He tries to get her to go home again.
  • Guess what? It still doesn't work. Things are getting tense.
  • There's a little more light conversation between Candy and Mathu, with Candy just making sure that Mathu is alright.
  • Suddenly, dust clouds appear, which means somebody is on their way.
  • Everybody still seems tense, but nobody moves. Lou notices that Mapes has his thumb near the safety catch on his gun.
  • Griffin, hiding behind a patch of weeds, gives Mapes a nod to let him know everything is okay when the car passes him.
  • Mapes's thumb gets closer to the safety catch, and Lou is convinced Mapes is going to fire Griffin ASAP when all of this is over.
  • The car pulls up. It's Miss Merle. And she brought ham and cheese sandwiches.
  • Carrying a basket full of them herself, she asks Griffin to help with the other basket, and she starts handing them out to everybody there.
  • It's pretty obvious that she's nervous and agitated.
  • Once that basket is empty, she hands it to Griffin as she keeps handing out sandwiches from the second basket.
  • Griffin is left standing there, holding his revolver and an empty basket.
  • This ticks Miss Merle off. She makes Griffin put his gun away.
  • She gives Mapes a second sandwich and apologizes for there being no beer.
  • Mapes says he'd be fine with water and asks Mathu if he minds.
  • Mathu has Snookum get some ice water out of his refrigerator and bring two glasses.
  • In the meantime, Mapes is just watching the sun go down. He figures it's be dusk in about an hour.
  • Snookum asks Miss Merle for another sandwich. She's surprised, but she gives him one.
  • Mapes says Lou probably wouldn't mind a second one, either.
  • Lou gets one, and pretty soon all of the hungrier old African American men who've gathered there get another, too.
  • Miss Merle is still agitated. After getting nowhere probing Candy for answers, she asks Mapes just what he intends to do about all this.
  • He gives her the same answer that he's given other people who've asked.
  • She tries to get on Lou for not convincing Candy to stop this foolishness, but Lou says it's a no go, and Merle says he needs to learn how to control his woman (yuck).
  • She eventually leaves, after saying that nobody better come to the house all bloody and expecting to get patched up.
  • Mapes thanks her for the sandwiches one last time as she's leaving.
  • They do a little more talking, and Mapes goes back to standing after Merle leaves.
  • Lou asks Mapes what he thinks is going to happen.
  • Mapes says he has no idea.
  • Lou is surprised that Mapes seems so content to wait.
  • All Mapes says when Lou tells him as much is that it's gotten too late for him to go fishing like he wanted to.

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