Clatoo approaches Glo Hebert and notes upon shaking her hand that she is very proud that they all have come. Clatoo then speaks to Mathu who tells him that this plan was Candy's not his own. Mathu says that he will turn himself in when the sheriff gets there. Johnny Paul and Rufe then say that Mathu cannot turn himself him because they shot Beau not him. All the men on the property immediately start claiming that they shot Beau, even if they have just arrived. The men even start competing with one another with their claims.

Reverend Jameson is the only man who does not participate. He believes their plan foolish and foolhardy and loudly tells them so. Candy tells him to go home if he does not like it, but Reverend Jameson continues to complain. Soon after, a car starts heading down the road. It stops before the house and Lou, Candy's boyfriend, gets out.


With these two chapters, the old men gather and finally arrive at the plantation. Several important stops mark their journey. First, the men walk through the cut sugar cane on the Marshall Plantation. This walk gives Cherry the opportunity to explain that although the Marshall family still owned the plantation, the Bautons have been leasing it for close to twenty-five years. Up until that time, Cherry's family had worked on the land since the days of slavery. Beau's arrival heralded changes in the agricultural system and eventually led to the decreased need for local black labor. The fact that the Bautons now manage the farm further underscores the already evident idleness of Bea and Jack Marshall who actually own the land.

As Cherry walks through the empty cane fields, he feels lonely and depressed. The cane evokes the memory of time when the black community thrived in their agricultural work. In those days, the people worked the soil and the soil gave them life. Families lived on or around the plantation. Songs, stories, and relationships bound them together. With the arrival of the Cajuns and their tractor however, the diminished need for black labor stripped the black community of all middle aged adults. These days only the old men remain on the farm. The community is dying away, just as the plantation is becoming increasingly decayed. Weeds surround the fields. The sugar cane grows wildly almost up to the graveyard in such a way that threatens the yard itself, symbolically suggesting the way that the recent agricultural change is threatening the past of the local blacks. The walk through the cane appears to be the perfect conduit for the old men since it reminds them of everything that the plantation once meant to them and how and why it has changed. The nature of this change is essential in understanding the complex reasons that led to Beau Boutan's death.

The second important stop on the way to the plantation is at the graveyard. The graveyard is a reservoir of ancestry that will help to activate the men's strength. Each of the men has family members buried there. Many of the ancestors had painful lives, such as Jacob's sister who was murdered by local whites. Still, the gravestones allow the men to connect to their past before they undertake one of the braver moments of their lives. Just as the visit strengthens them, so to does it suggest the way that current action can liberate the past. The ancestors of these men may have suffered, but current potential for action among the living may help to assuage their woes. This meditative moment in the graveyard then both strengthens and affirms the men. The memories of the pain that their family suffer will further spur them toward their goal, at the same time the vision of their family's strong connection to the land lends them strength as they act.

A final theme that arises in both of these chapters is the issue of the relevance of skin tone within the black community itself. Cherry brings up the memory of Jacob Aguillard's sister, a pretty mulatto girl whose family shunned her for hanging out with men who were too dark. Clatoo, on the other hand, describes Mathu's snobbish preference for his coal black skin. This discussion of skin tone highlights the fact that racial divisions are not just seen along black and white lines. The white community, we have already seen, divides itself between Cajuns and landowners. As Cherry and Clatoo explain, the black community also maintains a social rating system: one that is based upon skin tone. Ironically however, the preference for a certain skin tone within the black community is a form of subtle racism of its own. Gaines's careful delineation of this issue shows the arbitrary nature of these social rating systems and suggests the absurdity of judging any person by the color of their skin where white, black, or light or dark. All such external means to measure a person's worth have no basis.