Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Chapter 7

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Chapter 7

Cyril Robillard—a.k.a. "Clatoo" 

  • By the time Clatoo takes over the story, he and the group have arrived at Mathu's place.
  • The first person they all see is Candy, and Clatoo says it's obvious that she's really, really happy that all of them have shown up.
  • Candy gives Clatoo her version of what happened.
  • Clatoo doesn't buy it, and tells us that he knows Candy is lying to him because of how she's looking at him and how quickly she told the story—like she had it memorized.
  • After he talks to Candy, Clatoo sees Mathu just crouching and looking straight out at nothing, his shotgun cradled in his arms.
  • Clatoo mentions that Mathu has always been proud of his authentic African blood. He looks down on Blacks in the community like Jacob, the Lejeune twins, Clabber, and others who are of mixed racial ancestry (which is pretty messed up if you think about it).
  • The next stop on Clatoo's tour of Mathu's place is Beau's dead body. Everybody there stops and looks at it awhile. You can bet it's probably starting to get pretty ripe.
  • Clatoo shakes hands with some of the other fellas who were already there and then says hello to some of the women who are there, too—along with Reverend Jameson, who isn't happy to see anyone.
  • We get a quick roll call: Aunt Glo (the one Snookum called Gram Mon), Hazel Robinson, Corrine, and Rooster's wife Beulah are all there. Glo is especially happy to see Clatoo.
  • Clatoo finally gets around to talking to Mathu—or trying to, anyway.
  • Mathu—apart from telling Clatoo he's "alright" when Clatoo asks how he's doing—doesn't say much.
  • When Clatoo asks Mathu for some more info, he just says that Candy was the one who called everybody there, and that when the sheriff shows up, he'll turn himself in for Beau's murder.
  • Johnny Paul pipes up and says he's going to turn himself in.
  • Rufe jumps in and says the same thing.
  • Mat also says he plans on turning himself in for Beau's murder.
  • Trying to crack a joke, Johnny Paul asks Mat just what he was doing all the way out at Mathu's place.
  • As quick as lightning, Mat says he was chasing after a chicken hawk that had been going after his chickens and eating them.
  • Chimley gets in on the lie, and says that's how he ended up down there before he killed Beau.
  • Every guy there says they have plans to turn themselves in for Beau's murder.
  • After Dirty Red threatens to shoot some of the other men so he's got a better chance of being the one who confesses, Reverend Jameson has had enough.
  • He's convinced they'll all be "singing a different tune" once Fix shows up.
  • Candy reminds him that she's already told him he can go home if he wants to.
  • Jameson is concerned that, after today, he and other folks might not have any homes to go to at all because they've been burnt to the ground.
  • He basically begs Mathu to just turn himself in.
  • When Mathu doesn't respond, Jameson asks Clatoo to talk to him.
  • Nobody, including Clatoo, says anything. A pecan falls off a tree, rolls down a roof, and Snookum picks it up.
  • Dirty Red gives him a handful of pecans from his pocket.
  • As Snookum shares the pecans with a couple of other kids who are there, Candy asks Clatoo if everybody's fired off around, which they have. Clatoo tells her so.
  • Jameson knows it's all a sorry attempt to fool Sheriff Mapes, and he's convinced that the sheriff isn't going to buy it.
  • Rooster half-jokingly asks Dirty Red if he thinks Jameson needs to get shot.
  • Dirty Red says to wait and see.
  • Suddenly, everybody sees clouds of dust getting kicked up down the road.
  • They think it's Mapes, but it's actually Lou, Candy's boyfriend and the same guy that Janey was trying to get a hold of earlier.

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