When the trial began, blacks, whites, and media from around the nation packed the courtroom. The Bauton family comes to watch (Gil had helped LSU win the game against Ole Miss, by the way). The trial takes three days and often resembles a comic skit. All the blacks refer to each other by their nicknames- Coot, Chimley, Rooster—which makes the press laugh. Sheriff Mapes also adds comic effect when he says that he could not control the scene because he fallen on his butt in the yard and could not get up. Eventually, the jury comes to a verdict. The judge places all the defendants, both black and white, on probation for five years.

When the trial ends, Candy asks Mathu if he wants a ride home but he declines. Mathu piles into a truck with Clatoo and the others old men. Candy waves goodbye to them. As they leave, Lou feels Candy squeezing her hand tightly against his in a reaffirmation of their relationship.


The final chapters of the novel unfold quickly and grow increasingly with comic effect. Gaines uses Snookum again as the narrator to describe the first sequence of the shooting. With Snookum's childish tone, the seriousness of the shooting is diminished. From his vantage point under the house, Snookum also is able to see the comic events that ensue. The deputy, Griffin, resigns on the spot. Sheriff Mapes is only lightly injured but refuses to get up and calm the situation. The Sheriff places Lou Dimes in charge of the crisis and asks to be bothered no more. The Sheriff's unwillingness to get personally involved in the shootout shows that he wants the two crews to work it out without his help. The old black men have a burning desire for revenge due to their histories and the young Cajuns want the same thing. Sheriff Mapes views the entire situation as ridiculous and therefore resolves to just stay seated on the lawn. His injury is not so serious that he could not get up if he wanted to.

The shift of the narration to Sharp, one of the Cajuns, provides a unique perspective into the lynch mob's mind. All of them are astonished that the blacks are shooting. Sharp expresses his unwillingness to be killed while avenging Beau. Leroy, the youth, moans uncontrollably after being lightly wounded. Only Luke Will maintains a fierce desire for vengeance. Luke cannot just let Charlie walk away. The other Cajuns basically show themselves to be cowards who are only interested in the lynching when the blacks come peacefully and the whites have the upper hand. Luke Will is a ruffian, but his pride and unwillingness to back down from Charlie's challenge will finally lead to his death. During the battle, the Cajuns hide behind Beau Bauton's tractor, an appropriate symbolic location. This tractor, as we have seen earlier in the novel, represents the mechanized change that the Cajun farmers brought to the area and the detrimental effect that it had on the blacks. The blacks end up shooting at the tractor their symbolic enemy as they are attempting to hit the whites.

Both Luke Will and Charlie are killed during the shooting, but their deaths are not sad events. Luke Will always has appeared a nasty character and little sadness can be felt at his death. Charlie has not been present for most of the novel and furthermore becomes martyred with his death. Charlie died while pursuing courage and black masculinity. His courage so impressed everyone that they lay their hands upon his dead body after he dies. The entire book discusses the issue of black masculinity, but Charlie represents the ultimate black male transformed. In just one day, he transformed himself from a sniveling coward to a man willing to stand up and fight for his self.

Lou Dimes narrates the final chapter with a light comic tone. The trial sets the town laughing with stories of the Sheriff's injury and the blacks' names. The tone is comic, but the verdict signifies a marked change in the way justice is processed in the South. All of the men involved in the shooting, both white and black, received the same punishment for the same crime. This equal distribution of justice is inconsistent with the traditionally racist justice system of the era. With this final comic trial, Gaines highlights the way that the South truly has changed. Throughout the novel the old men, both white and black, have expected Beau's death to be dealt with the way that it would have been dealt with in the past. But they had not adjusted to the changing social times. This trial confirms that the change is real. Gil Bauton plays football with a black partner, and justice is equally served, suggesting that the ways of the old South are on their way out.