Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Visions of the "Gallant South"

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Visions of the "Gallant South"

So just what in the wide world of sports do we mean by the "gallant South"? Sure, we're going to be taking a look at some images of that beautiful—and maybe not-so beautiful—Louisiana countryside, but why call it "gallant"? Well, it's actually a reference to an old song that has to do with racism and all of its ugliness, but lynching in particular, called "Strange Fruit." When the song calls the South "gallant," it's doing it in a really sarcastic way. The idea is that there's nothing gallant about a society that terrorizes and brutalizes innocent people. As you read through moments where we get a look at Louisiana in A Gathering of Old Men, think about whether or not Gaines wants you to like what you see.

Questions About Visions of the "Gallant South"

  1. Why is it that we never get a good, long look at the city in Gaines's novel? Why no New Orleans or chapter upon chapter taking place in Baton Rouge?
  2. Do the white and African-American characters in Gaines's novel have the same relationship to the land? Why or why not?
  3. Does Marshall seem like a fantastic place to visit or live? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Throughout the novel, Gaines gives us visions of a once rich and beautiful landscape now slowly dying to show us the cost of technological progress.

<em>A Gathering of Old Men </em>is a novel of opposites in conflict, and the competing ideas about the land and its importance that characters have emphasize this.

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