Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Chapter 14

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Chapter 14

Albert Jackson—a.k.a. "Rooster"

  • And now the story swings back around to Marshall Plantation, and we're in much better company.
  • This time around we get to hear from Rooster. We find out that he and the other men there haven't been going to use the outhouse when the go around the back. They've been picking shotgun shells—unused ones—out of a box and loading them into their guns.
  • As our old friend Chimley is coming around the corner after loading up his own gun, Mapes gets a call on the radio in his car.
  • Rooster can't hear what's being said, but there is obviously a conversation taking place.
  • Mapes moseys on up to where everybody is standing. He's got a huge grin on his huge face.
  • He's just gotten word that Fix isn't going to be showing up, and he lets everybody else there know.
  • Nobody believes it—especially Johnny Paul, who can't accept that Fix Boutan won't be looking for blood. He's convinced it's a lie and a trick.
  • Mapes is so happy that he doesn't even care when Johnny Paul calls him a liar.
  • Rooster explains to us that everybody wanted a showdown, and now they are bummed they weren't getting one.
  • Mapes is ecstatic. He says that it's all their fault they didn't get what they wanted—basically saying the Civil Rights movement changed things, integrated college sports, and made it so Fix didn't have the power he used to.
  • Rooster is convinced that Mapes isn't making a lot of sense, and chalks it up to how happy he is about the way things went down.
  • Mapes turns to Mathu and asks him if he's ready to turn himself in.
  • Mathu obliges, and walks off with Mapes.
  • As he's leaving, some of the men raise their shotguns.
  • Clatoo asks Mapes if they can all talk to Mathu inside.
  • The sheriff is so beside himself with joy that he figures that's okay.
  • Candy is about to go in with the rest of the men, but Clatoo stops her.
  • This gets Candy incredibly angry. She can't believe what she's hearing.
  • More of the men raise their shotguns.
  • Clatoo reminds Candy that he already said he didn't mind dying that day, and that also means he's not taking any orders from anybody—even her.
  • Mapes, who normally would have beaten any Black man who talked to a white woman that way, just lets it happen.
  • Rooster knows it's because Mapes likes seeing Candy lose control.
  • Candy threatens to kick everybody out of the quarters.
  • Mapes laughs at her and calls her out for being a hypocrite—pretending to care so much for people that she's willing to make them homeless.
  • Candy doesn't say anything. She just goes to the door of Mathu's place and dares anybody to walk past her.
  • Mapes tells her to just let it happen.
  • Lou tries to get her to come over to where he is.
  • She refuses. Mapes and Lou keep trying to get her to move.
  • Finally, Mathu tells Candy that she needs to go home—not in a mean way, very gently, but he tells that to her just the same.
  • Rooster tells us that it reminds him of how, when Candy was a little girl and she didn't want to leave Mathu's place after playing there all day, he would just carry her back and she wouldn't complain or put up a fight.
  • Candy refuses.
  • The tough act is gone now. She's trying not to cry.
  • Mathu puts a hand to her face as a sign of affection, and Candy holds it there.
  • She begs him not to go. She says that her family always said that Marshall wouldn't exist without Mathu. She wants Mathu there to help her raise her own children and tell them all about how things used to be.
  • Mathu says he can still do all that, but Candy is convinced that he'll die in prison.
  • Mathu pulls Candy's hands off of him and lets Lou take her away.
  • She's angry the whole time—swearing, kicking, all-around angry.
  • Lou tosses her in his car and shuts the door.
  • Mapes lets everybody there know that they have about 15 minutes to talk, then he's taking Mathu in.
  • They all go inside and get to talking.
  • The topic is a simple one: what to do now.
  • Clatoo raises that very question. Johnny Paul says why not do what they were planning to do all along.
  • Clatoo says that he was willing to fight and die for Mathu out of love and respect. Since there is going to be no fight, though, Clatoo suggests that they all go home.
  • Johnny Paul completely disagrees. He rushes up to where Clatoo's standing and says so.
  • Everybody agrees with Johnny Paul and it starts to get rowdy.
  • Clatoo bangs an old tin cup on the mantle in Mathu's place and gets them to calm down so he can explain himself.
  • He says there is no point in going with Mathu because it will be really easy for Mapes to prove that all of them had nothing to do with it, so none of them will get arrested.
  • Clatoo tries telling Johnny Paul that all Mapes cared about was what Fix might do if he saw all of them in Bayonne with Mathu. Now that Fix isn't coming, Mapes doesn't care anymore.
  • Johnny Paul says that's not enough to change his mind.
  • Mat sees Clatoo's point. Johnny Paul is still not convinced.
  • Rooster lets us into his own thoughts for a minute. He tells us he's thinking about all the pain and suffering he's had to deal with, about the generations of his family who died still slaves, and about how badly he wanted to get even for some of that.
  • Suddenly, Mathu speaks up.
  • He says that there's no reason for anybody to go anywhere, that they've already proved plenty by doing what it is they'd already done. He says he appreciates it.
  • Trying to keep himself from crying, he tells them that he never used to like them much, but all of that is changed, and he's changed.
  • Mathu encourages them all to listen to Clatoo and go home. He tells them to sell off his stuff and get whatever money they can for it.
  • Then everybody hears a voice from the kitchen, telling Mathu not to go anywhere.
  • It's Charlie, who's just turned up. He tells somebody to go and get Mapes.

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