Granville Hicks (review date 17 August 1968)

(Short Story Criticism)

Hicks, Granville. “Sounds of Soul.” Saturday Review (17 August 1968): 19-20.

[In the following review of Bloodline, Hicks praises the author's characterization and his ear for common speech while finding fault with some of the conclusions to the stories.]

Ernest J. Gaines, author of two novels, Catherine Carmier and Of Love and Dust, has now published a collection of short stories, Bloodline. All five of the stories concern Negroes in the South—probably in Gaines's native Louisiana. In the first story, “A Long Day in November,” a five-year-old boy presents a domestic comedy that is no comedy to him. In “The Sky Is Gray” it is...

(The entire section is 1267 words.)

Ernest J. Gaines with Forrest Ingram and Barbara Steinberg (interview date 1973)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Gaines, Ernest J., and Forrest Ingram and Barbara Steinberg. “On the Verge: An Interview with Ernest J. Gaines.” In Conversations with Ernest Gaines, edited by John Lowe, pp. 39-55. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1995.

[In the following excerpt from an interview originally published in New Orleans Review in 1973, Gaines discusses the major theme and characters in the stories in Bloodline, the literary influences that helped shape them, and his conception of the collection as a unified work.]

[Ingram and Steinberg]: Do you think you'll continue writing about Louisiana and the South?

[Gaines]: Till I get it...

(The entire section is 3448 words.)

Walter R. McDonald (essay date summer 1975)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: McDonald, Walter R. “‘You Not A Bum, You a Man’: Ernest J. Gaines's Bloodline.Negro American Literature Forum 9, no. 2 (summer 1975): 47-9.

[In the following essay, McDonald explores the theme of manhood in Bloodline and compares the collection to works by William Faulkner and John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.]

Born on a Louisiana plantation in 1933, Ernest J. Gaines lives now in San Francisco but returns to his boyhood home yearly. He has turned the materials of his own life and the history and folklore of the changing Louisiana plantation system into three novels—Catherine Carmier (1964); Of Love and Dust (1967);...

(The entire section is 2473 words.)

Frank W. Shelton (essay date December 1975)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Shelton, Frank W. “Ambiguous Manhood in Ernest J. Gaines's Bloodline.CLA Journal 19, no. 2 (December 1975): 200-09.

[In the following essay, Shelton elucidates Gaines's complex portrayal masculinity in Bloodline.]

With the recent highly regarded television version of the novel, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ernest J. Gaines's reputation and popularity have been enhanced substantially. His earlier works are consequently being reconsidered, but one of the curious facts of Gaines criticism is that his one volume of short stories, Bloodline, has been relatively neglected.1 Certainly “The Sky Is Gray” is an...

(The entire section is 3924 words.)

William Burke (essay date June 1976)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Burke, William. “Bloodline: A Black Man's South.” CLA Journal 19, no. 4 (June 1976): 545-58.

[In the following essay, Burke views the five stories in Bloodline as “the record of changing race relations in America.”]

One of the finest collections of short stories published in the past few years—Bloodline by Ernest Gaines (New York: Dial Press, 1968, to which all page numbers refer)—has gone generally unrecognized by literary critics in spite of its praise by reviewers, and it is time to give the volume recognition. The five stories in the collection demonstrate their excellence in two ways: they are human stories—moving,...

(The entire section is 5338 words.)

Barbara Puschmann-Nalenz (essay date 1977)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Puschmann-Nalenz, Barbara. “Ernest J. Gaines: ‘A Long Day in November’ (1963).” In The Black American Short Story in the 20th Century: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Peter Bruck, pp. 157-69. Amsterdam: B. R. Grüner Publishing, 1977.

[In the following essay, Puschmann-Nalenz provides a thematic and stylistic analysis of “A Long Day in November” and views the story as a precursor to Gaines's popular novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.]

Ernest J. Gaines was born in 1933. He grew up on a plantation in the Louisiana “bayou country.” At the age of sixteen he moved to San Francisco, where he still lives.


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Todd Duncan (essay date May 1978)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Duncan, Todd. “Scene and Life Cycle in Ernest Gaines' Bloodline.Callaloo 1, no. 3 (May 1978): 85-101.

[In the following essay, Duncan examines the way Gaines depicts the process of maturation and aging in Bloodline, comparing events in the stories to the eight life-cycle stages theorized by psychoanalyst Erik Erikson.]

When Ernest Gaines published The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman in 1971, he secured his footing within the American literary world as an important artist. The critical acclaim was nearly unanimous, and the transformation of the work into a popular television drama embellished that success. But Gaines' quiet vision...

(The entire section is 7407 words.)

Ernest J. Gaines with Calvin Skaggs (interview date 19 October 1979)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Gaines, Ernest J., and Calvin Skaggs. “Interview with Ernest J. Gaines.” In The American Short Story: Volume 2, edited by Calvin Skaggs, pp. 443-51. New York: Dell Publishing, 1980.

[In the following interview, which was originally conducted in 1979, Gaines comments on the origins of “The Sky Is Gray,” discusses his metaphorical use of colors, and identifies the literary works that influenced the story.]

[Skaggs]: Do you have any memory of when the idea for this particular story, for “The Sky Is Gray,” occurred to you? What was the germ of the story? Or what made you put these particular events together?

[Gaines]: I...

(The entire section is 3664 words.)

John F. Callahan (essay date winter 1984)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Callahan, John F. “Hearing is Believing: The Landscape of Voice in Ernest Gaines's Bloodline.Callaloo 7, no. 1 (winter 1984): 86-112.

[In the following essay, Callahan contends that in Bloodline “voice becomes a transforming agent” that allows the characters to realize their identities and pursue changes that will result in greater freedom than they had previously experienced.]

The way home we seek is that condition of being at home in the world which is called love and which we term democracy.

—Ralph Ellison


“Usually,” Ernest Gaines...

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John W. Roberts (essay date fall 1984)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Roberts, John W. “The Individual and the Community in Two Short Stories by Ernest J. Gaines.” Black American Literature Forum 18, no. 3 (fall 1984): 110-13.

[In the following essay, Roberts argues that “A Long Day in November” and “The Sky Is Gray” depict the conflict between traditional, community-defined values and those established by individuals.]

The interaction between the community and the individual, along with its role in the shaping of human personality, is a primary concern of Ernest J. Gaines in much of his fiction. It is in probing the underlying community attitudes, values, and beliefs to discover the way in which they determine what...

(The entire section is 3546 words.)

Karen Carmean (essay date 1998)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Carmean, Karen. “The Short Stories: Bloodline (1968).” In Ernest J. Gaines: A Critical Companion, pp. 137-55. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

[In the following essay, the critic provides an overview of Bloodline, commenting on the different perspectives the stories provide on the subject of African American manhood and asserting that their effect is heightened when read as a whole.]

Throughout his career, Ernest Gaines has said that he writes about “survival with sanity and love and sense of responsibility, and getting up and trying all over again not only for one's self but mankind” (Lowe, 96). Nowhere is his concern more...

(The entire section is 7896 words.)