Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Society and Class

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Society and Class

It might not look like it's all that tough of a novel to read—but Gaines is giving us a whole lot to chew on in <em>A Gathering of Old Men</em>. We've got race, we've got gender, and that's not all. We've talked about the way that the racism Gaines shows us is connected to the plantation past, but that's not the only awful thing that's sticking around. Nope. There's some serious, snobby, and snooty class prejudice floating around in Gaines's novel. Sure, they can get caught up in race—and we'll show you just what we mean by that—but issues of class abound in Gaines's novel. Let's dive on in.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. What is the deal with the way the whites at Marshal treat the Cajuns? Why is that?
  2. How would you describe Fix's class position? Is he rich? Is he poor? Is he working-class? How did he get where he is?
  3. How do race and class work together, or against each other, in Gaines's novel?

Chew on This

The racist attitudes of lower-class white characters are just a reflection of the racist attitudes of upper-class white characters.

If you want to climb up the social ladder in Gaines's novel, you've got to be white, and you've got to do and say some awful things to other people. 

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