Vol. 40 No. 2 (1992)
Research Article

Calling, Naming, and Coming of Age in Ernest Gaines's “A Gathering of Old Men”

Published 1992-06-01



In his 1983 novel, A Gathering of old Men, Ernest Gaines deploys characters' names so as to point to their implications in a society in which social stratification based on color and race is the norm. He draws his readers' attention to the importance of names by the headings he uses for the novel's monological divisions. The gathering that this novel celebrates, a sign of the old men's maturing, features, among other indications of coming of age, their insistence on being called by their formal names.


  1. Gaines, Ernest. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. New York: Bantam, 1972.
  2. Gaines, Ernest. A Gathering of Old Men. New York: Vintage, 1984.
  3. Gaudet, Marcia, and Carl Wooton. Porch Talk with Ernest Gaines: Conversations on the Writer’s Craft. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1990.
  4. Inscoe, John C. “Carolina Slave Names: An Index to Acculturation.” Journal of Southern History 44 (1983): 527–54.