Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Chapter 15

By Ernest J. Gaines

Chapter 15

Lou Dimes

  • Once again, we're back hanging out with reporter extraordinaire Lou Dimes. He and Candy are having a bit of an argument.
  • Lou is trying to convince her that what Mathu has just done is a good thing, because it's finally proven to Candy Mathu's independence and humanity. He's not just some pet that she needs to feed and take care of. (That last part is our version of what Lou is saying.)
  • Candy, obviously not interested, tells Lou that he's a bastard.
  • Lou tries to recover from this with a joke. Candy slaps him for his trouble (ouch).
  • One of the men comes out of the house and asks Aunt Glo where Mapes is.
  • Last she saw him, Mapes was headed down the road a bit.
  • Griffin says they've got a couple of more minutes before Mathu gets taken down.
  • Gable walks out holding his gun. He asks Lou where Mapes is, and Lou tells him.
  • Lou turns the headlights of his car on and off to signal Mapes and tell him he needs to get back up there.
  • Mapes shows up, and starts talking to Gable.
  • As Mapes and Gable walk back to Mathu's place, Mapes tells Candy she better come along, and that she's done all of the work she did for nothing.
  • When Lou tries to ask Mapes what's going on, he just tells Lou to ask Candy.
  • Candy repeats that she killed Beau, and that she'll swear to it in court.
  • Mapes asks a question about Charlie, and Lou gets a little confused.
  • But he doesn't stay that way for long. They, along with everybody else—men, women, children—head into Mathu's house where Charlie is waiting.
  • We should stop here to tell you that Charlie is a big dude, like Incredible Hulk big—tall, broad chested, and strong. It's almost like he's too big for the house.
  • Mapes asks Snookum to get him some more ice water.
  • Snookum does, but tells Charlie not to start talking until he gets back.
  • Charlie begins to repeat to everyone that he's a man. He's not some little, scared boy anymore, but a man. He tells Lou to write that in his paper, and Lou says he will.
  • Mapes drinks two glasses of water that he pours out of a tall pitcher.
  • Charlie asks for the pitcher and drinks the rest of the water straight from it.
  • Charlie turns to the sheriff and repeats that he's a man, and that's why he came back. He says the same thing to Mathu, who is apparently Charlie's godfather.
  • Mathu nods in agreement.
  • Before going on, Charlie insists that he be called Mr. Biggs instead of Big Charlie.
  • Mapes—who is completely serious—agrees, and tells everybody else to call Charlie Mr. Biggs, too, even Candy.
  • Charlie begins to tell his story, and he begins at… the beginning.
  • For Charlie, the beginning is about 45 or 50 years earlier, when he first started running to avoid getting punished or abused by anybody.
  • Charlie says he's been carrying on that way for nearly all of his life, but that he was done with that.
  • There's a silence, and Mapes asks him to continue, referring to him as Mr. Biggs.
  • The story is pretty basic.
  • Charlie was working with Beau out in the cane fields and Beau got nasty with him.
  • When Charlie asked him to stop, Beau told him he would beat him, too.
  • Charlie wasn't having any of that, so when Beau picked up a cane stock, so did he.
  • After Beau landed a couple of hits, Charlie hit him across the face and sent him to the ground.
  • Charlie took off running and got to Mathu's.
  • A little while later, he heard Beau's tractor and planned on running some more.
  • Mathu told Charlie that, if he ran, Mathu was going to beat Charlie himself.
  • At this point, Beau was off the tractor and putting a shell in the shotgun that he always keeps with him.
  • Mathu put his gun in Charlie's hands and told him to stand his ground.
  • Charlie warned Beau, but Beau wasn't afraid of Charlie at all. He even said he had planned to hunt Charlie like he was an animal.
  • Even though Charlie warned Beau and told him to put down the gun, he didn't. He tried to aim his gun at Charlie.
  • So Charlie shot Beau. Woah.
  • Everybody is stunned, everybody. Charlie just says he had finally had enough.
  • He said that he had planned to run to the North, but that he had hidden in the weeds for a while and had tried to take off for good.
  • Something, Charlie says, kept calling him back home, like something was telling him he had to do this, to take ownership of what he did.
  • Mathu is proud, but everybody else is confused.
  • Charlie says that he's ready to go and take the heat for killing Beau. You can tell he's proud.
  • Mapes calls him Mr. Biggs again, and Charlie says he wants to make sure that everybody heard that.
  • Just as they're stepping onto the porch, Luke Will shows up, and demands that Mapes give them Charlie.

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