A Gathering of Old Men

by Ernest J. Gaines

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Student Question

In A Gathering of Old Men, who is your favorite and least favorite character?

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One of the most admirable characters in the novel is Candy. Though she is described as "small, not more than five two, and thin as a dime" (page 16), she is a strong person who is committed to helping others. Right after Beau Boutan is found dead on Mathu's lawn, Candy tries to take the blame. She says, "I won't let them touch my people" (page 17). She protects Mathu, an African-American man, as a white woman, and she summons other men to arrive at Mathu's house with twelve-gauge shotguns and number five shells so they can confuse the sheriff about who actually committed the murder. She risks her life and imprisonment to protect Mathu and others in the community.

One of the least likable characters is Fix Boutan, Beau's father. Snookum says he "expects to hear Fix and his drove coming in them trucks with them guns any minute now" (page 11). People expect Fix to turn to vigilante justice and start shooting people before the sheriff even has time to investigate. Candy says of Fix, "In case you have forgotten what Fix has done to these people, maybe [Janey] can remind you" (page 19). Fix is a malicious person who brutalizes African-American people and is one of the least likable characters in the novel.

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