In A Gathering of Old Men, although slapping Janey is rather cruel, Miss Merle realizes that the servant is hysterical and she needs answers from Janey immediately.
In the beginning of Gaines's novel, the conflict is established early on as the Cajun farmer Beau Boutan lies dead, having been shot by Mathau. This situation is dire because the Boutan family has a history of violence and Beau is white and Mathau is black. Candy Marshall is white and from the family that once owned the former plantation; nevertheless, she claims she has shot Beau in order to protect Mathau, who has been like a father to her.
In Chapter Three, Myrtle Bouchard (also called Miss Merle) has a pie made so she can take it to the Marshall's house where the Major resides. After she arrives at the Marshall home, she observes that the servant Janey has been crying. When Janey tells her about the murder, Miss Merle tries to awaken the drunken Major on...
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