Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Chapter 16

By Ernest J. Gaines

Chapter 16

Sidney Brooks—a.k.a. "Coot"

  • Coot—our good friend in the army uniform who fought in WWI—tells us that they were all planning on giving Charlie a nice send-off before Luke Will showed up.
  • Mapes tells Charlie to hit the floor.
  • Charlie refuses. Instead, he asks Mathu for his shotgun, and Mathu gladly gives it to him.
  • Mapes says he'll handle it, but Charlie says it's his fight.
  • Clatoo chimes in. He says it's everybody's fight.
  • That's when Mapes and everybody else find out that every man there has a loaded shotgun.
  • Surprised, Mapes tells Clatoo he's going to pay for this.
  • Clatoo says that the sheriff's mistaken. Luke Will is going to pay—for a lot of things.
  • Mapes tries to get Luke to take off.
  • Luke refuses to leave without Charlie.
  • Charlie figures that should convince Mapes to let him handle this.
  • Mapes calls to his deputy, Griffin, who refuses to help him defend Black folks from white terrorists.
  • Charlie again basically tells Mapes that he should let him kill Luke.
  • Ignoring Charlie, Mapes asks Luke where Hilly is.
  • We learn that Luke knocked him out.
  • Mapes moves toward Luke and his pals.
  • Luke warns him to stop.
  • Mapes keeps moving. He grabs his gun from where he had put it for a minute and tries to fire a shot off as he hits the ground.
  • Mapes gets shot in the arm. He's not too seriously hurt, but he is too fat to get up.
  • Charlie, Clatoo, and Coot all take off and scatter.
  • The people in the road—Luke's people—are all shooting.
  • As Clatoo and Coot hide near each other, they can hear more gunfire—some coming from the house.
  • After a while they come back and are relieved to find out that nobody is hurt.
  • We learn that Billy Washington and Jean Pierre fired off some rounds accidentally.
  • The men all agree to scatter and to signal—hooting like owls—when they're all in position and to start firing their weapons one after another.
  • Coot can hear one of Luke's men scream, so he knows they've nailed one.
  • All up and down the stretch of land in front of the road where Luke and his pals are, you can hear the sounds of the men continually taking turns jumping up, firing, and plopping back down.

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