Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Race

By Ernest J. Gaines

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</em>In this day and age, some people have a hard time believing that such a thing as racism still exists. In fact, depending on who you talk to, some people think that race is a thing of the past. They'll tell you stuff about how we live in a color-blind society where anybody can get ahead no matter what. They think that discrimination, racial oppression, and all of that stuff is a thing of the past. Hey, a lot has changed in three or four hundred years, but all of that change hasn't been easy. It's been a constant, knock-down, drag-out fight. And, in <em>A Gathering of Old Men</em>, Gaines wants us to understand that the fight needs to keep on going on, because race—and racism—still exist. Let's take a closer look at just what Gaines is doing with race in his novel.

Questions About Race

  1. Why do you think we have to wait so long to find out what decade we're in when this story takes place? How does that relate to race?
  2. What is the connection between race and violence in A Gathering of Old Men?
  3. Does Gaines suggest that there's a possibility of a future in which racism doesn't exist? How?

Chew on This

Although usually connected somehow to violence, racism comes in many forms in A Gathering of Old Men.

Racism affects men and women of color differently in Gaines's novel. 

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