Gaines Summary 1
A Gathering of Old Men is characterized as a theatrical novel and is original because it has multiple-perspective narration. In which all kinds of individuals—white and black, male and female, old and young, and rich and poor—have something in common to say about the murder of Beau Boutan. The use of imagery and foreshadowing is really what makes the story come alive and sets the scene. The major scene of the novel is somewhere between slapstick comedy and social drama, prefigures the complex tone of the novel, as serious or volatile situations are often diffused with scenes of comic relief. This novel is also reminiscent of Greek tragedy in its structure. Beyond the basic questions of form and content, Gaines’s fiction seems to point toward Arthur Miller’s 1949 demythologization of Greek tragedy in “Tragedy and the Common Man.” Miller deems tragedy an art form of and for the masses, for “if the exaltation of tragic action were truly a property of the high-bred character alone, it is inconceivable that the mass of mankind should cherish tragedy above all other forms, let alone be capable of understanding it.” According to Miller, tragedy occurs when an individual, seeing that his/her self-esteem is threatened, decides to do something about it. Miller thinks the tragic feeling is evoked when we are in presence of a character who isn’t ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing—his sense of personal dignity. This novel is a tragedy not only because it fits so well Miller’s definition of it, but also because in tragedy, Gaines has found structures and values best suited to give a voice to his people—the people among whom he grew up in the old slave quarters of rural Louisiana.