Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Chapter 2

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Chapter 2

Janice Robinson—a.k.a. "Janey"

  • In this chapter, it's Janey's turn to be front and center, and we're with her right after Snookum gives her the message.
  • Because she knows something bad has gone down, and some things that are even worse are about to go down, she's a mess.
  • She has a pretty anxiety-ridden conversation with herself about what she should do, and she settles on trying to get a hold of Lou.
  • She calls a newspaper in Baton Rouge, trying to get hold of him.
  • Instead, a guy called Toby Wright answers and tells Janey that he's out having dinner.
  • This makes Janey even more nervous, and she insists that somebody needs to find him for her because it's urgent.
  • Toby apparently knows Janey. He tells her to calm down and that Lou will be back in a minute.
  • Getting more and more riled up by the second, she tells Toby to make sure that Lou knows he needs to get back to the quarters ASAP.
  • She hangs up and has a good long cry.
  • Janey tries to get a hold of Miss Merle. No luck.
  • Unsure what to do, she goes out to the front of the house and finds the Major—curled up and passed out drunk on whiskey (and it's not even noon).
  • She decides to find Miss Bea and heads up to her room, but then Janey realizes that she's not in her room. She finds Miss Bea out in the back pasture poking around in the weeds looking for pecans.
  • Because Miss Bea is pretty old—like her drunk husband—and apparently a little absent-minded, Janey is worried that a snake might bite Miss Bea while she's messing around in the weeds.
  • Janey knows that, if Miss Bea gets hurt, people will blame her and it means losing her job.
  • Still really, really, upset, Janey decides to try and get a hold of Miss Merle again.
  • Once more, no luck.
  • Janey's gone back to her dusting when she hears Miss Merle's car in the driveway.
  • An older, very happy and always-smiling woman, Miss Merle stops smiling when she sees that Janey has been crying and asks her what's going on.
  • After telling Miss Merle she's been trying to get hold of her, Janey tells her that Candy's told her that Beau has been shot, and that Beau is dead.
  • Miss Merle asks where Candy is, and Janey tells her she's in the quarters. She also lets Miss Merle know that Janey wanted her and Lou to get down there as quickly as possible.
  • When Miss Merle finds out that Janey couldn't reach Lou, she gets even more agitated, rushes into her car, and hurries off.
  • As she's leaving, she tells Janey to pray.
  • Janey tells us that she's been doing that all along.

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