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A Gathering of Old Men

Ernest J. Gaines

Chapter 17–20

Chapters 15 and 16

Chapter 17–20, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

Chapter 17: Snookum

Snookum narrates this chapter. When the shooting starts, he dashes down the stairs, and under the house. People are yelling everywhere as the shots ring out. Snookum sees Lou crawling around the house. Lou tells Snookum to move toward the back of the house and stay down. Lou approaches Sheriff Mapes who is still sitting where he fell. Lou tells Mapes that the deputy, Griffin, has resigned. Mapes asks Lou if he wants the job. Mapes places Lou in charge of the situation and tells Lou not to bother him anymore that night.

Chapter 18: Horace Thompson, aka Sharp

Sharp, who is a member of Luke Wilson's crew, narrates this chapter. He is hiding with the other white Cajuns behind the tractor. They are all amazed that the black men on the property have guns and are shooting at them. They cannot figure out how the blacks became so brave. One of them, a young boy named Leroy, has been winged with a bullet and is crying continually. Luke slaps Leroy in order to get him to shut up. Leroy yells for Mapes to help him because he is white and he has been shot. Mapes gives Leroy no sympathy. Luke then asks Mapes to help them get Leroy out of there. Mapes tells Luke that since Luke shot him, Luke can figure out how to evade the bullets on his own.

Luke tells Sharp that they are almost out of bullets, but that he is going to fight back. Sharp does not feel like getting himself killed over this situation and he knows that his attitude angers Luke. Luke tells Sharp to take care of his wife and kids if something happens to him. Luke cries out again to Mapes who refers Luke to Lou Dimes, who then refers Luke to Charlie. Charlie tells Luke to watch out because Charlie is prepared to kill him like he did Beau. Faced with this taunt, Luke decides that he will definitely try to kill Charlie no matter what. Luke leaves the hiding place to search for him.

Chapter 19: Antoine Christopher, aka Dirty Red

Dirty Red narrates this chapter. He is lying in a ditch with Yank, Tucker, Chimley, and Charlie. Dirty Red passes Charlie a cigarette. Charlie tells them that he is going to get Luke Will. The other men tell Charlie that he could possibly get off for Beau's murder because it was self-defense and that Mathu wants Charlie to stop. Charlie does not care. Charlie tells them that life is great when one is no longer a coward. The other men start asking Charlie what he saw back there in the swamps that made him so brave.

The fight has become a stand off between Charlie and Luke Will, both of who are out for one another. Charlie eventually gets up and approaches Luke. Dirty Red hears a shot and sees Charlie's body bend. Charlie keeps walking and shooting though. Soon after there are more shots and Charlie falls to the ground. All is quiet. Lou Dimes runs over to the tractor and yells that Luke has been killed. The black people all have gathered around Charlie. He is dead, having been shot through the stomach. Everyone in the community touches his body and Glo even makes her grandchildren touch him too.

Chapter 20: Lou Dimes

Lou narrates this chapter. Funerals for Beau Bauton, Charlie, and Luke Will all take place three days later. Everyone involved in the shooting is put on trial, although the main culprits Charlie and Luke Will are already dead. Candy hires a lawyer to defend the blacks. The Klan defends Luke Will. All of the defendants look ridiculous having been scratched, sprained, or injured during the melee, although only Leroy had been shot. Everyone scrubs himself or herself and puts on their best clothes for the court.

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