Most peers in Modern America, believes race relations are an ever-prominent issue. The racial relation within our peers has become less common in our current everyday life than how common it was in the past. A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines is a great novel about race relations. The setting takes place on the land of the Marshall Plantation in the late 1970s in Louisiana. Also, the novel provides A more acute understanding of past and present realities and challenges the widespread and complacent notion that change is impossible (rtm Lambert 107), The author Lambert quote refers to the conflict between the Cajuns and blacks in South Louisiana. In A Gathering of Old Men Gaines highlights different examples of race relations between fifteen different characters which shows and how skin color causes and resolves conflicts.
The author emphasizes Mapes whom happens to be the white sheriff for the old men. Mapes normally dealt with black people around this time. He finds himself getting into a worked-up situation with having to deal with a group of old black men and many blacks period. The group of old men had a shotgun and each of them claiming they shot Beau. Which causing them to stick together and no one get caught for the blame of killing Beau, which meaning from this current situation is to show a definition of manhood. The sheriff does not get the answer hes looking for and turns into violence. Uncle Billy then approaches to speak while speaking he didnt even get two complete sentences out of his mouth, the back of Mapess hand went pow across [his] face (68). During that action it seemed as sheriff Mapes had a tension of racial attitude like the other men in the South around that time. Mapes than goes off to hit another old men, then Lou see that [Mapes] did not like what he is doing, but he didnt know any other way to get what he wanted (69). Mapes visits the reverend of the black church and adds to the perception that he must be either one or both, hateful and or ignorant. It is only after all the people on the property line up to be hit that Mapes backs down from that approach. While his withdrawal from the situation could signify Mapes having a shred of respect, it mostly conveys that he knew he was surrounded by over a dozen men with shotguns.
However, Candy Marshall is a white Cajun and a part owner of the plantation where Beau was murdered. Candy and Mathu has developed a close relationship as father like daughter type. Candy is determined to protect Mathu notwithstanding the resistance of her race. But in any case, her longing to secure him is self-motivated. She has failed to see the purpose of the old men s reunion and instead fears losing control over Mathu. You ve been trying to split us up all day, she said. And you want to keep them slaves the rest of their lives. Mapes said back. Nobody is a slave eighteen here Candy said. I m protecting them like I ve always protected them. Like my people have always protected them (174). Gaines shows a change within Candy and Mathu relationship as the novel comes to an end. She uses the old mens stand to protect Mathu, however the old men reroute her intentions and break with her to succeed their own goals. When Mapes arrives to the scene to interrogate Mathu, Candy steps between the two of them to disregard Mapes from hitting Mathu, but Mathu renders Candy protectiveness and faces Mapes face to face his-self. The author describes this scene When [Mathu] reached the ground, he bound to thank her; then he turned to Mapes he was in eighties, head white as it could be but you didnt see no trembling in his face or hands(184).
Gaines uses Gil and Cals friendship to point out an example of race relation. Gil and Cal are two best friends known as Salt and Pepper at their college university LSU. Gil being a Cajun, the publicity people had tried to think of a nickname for him when he first came to the university, but after seeing how well him and Cal worked together, they finally settled on Salt and Pepper(111) .Gil heard the news of his brother Beau being killed from being in his coach office for approximately more than 10 minutes and took it upon himself to be angry at Cal because of his skin color hes black so Gil thinks Cal or Cal family has something to do with his brother Beau death. Gil came back out and went right by Cal and me like we werent standing there (112). As the other character Skully realizes how Gil is treating Cal so he feels upset about the situation. I followed him, but it sure made me feel bad at the way he treated Cal (114). Gil’s upset behavior towards Cal shows that even though Gil works intimately with Cal regular, his loyalties easily switch up along racial lines as has frequently been the pattern in the South. The Cajuns were the greatest competitor of the black people in Louisiana, but the Cajuns had the advantage of race in a segregated society as each character gets involved in the story, the reader see the tensions between the past and the present, the conflict between the whites and blacks.