Presentation of the Tractor in "A Gathering of Old Men" by Ernest Gaines.

Essay by fatz_07University, Bachelor'sA+, December 2005

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The tractor symbolizes the agricultural mechanization that has taken place with the growth of Cajun farming and this mechanization's effect. The arrival of the tractor with the Cajuns shifted the traditional means of local black life. Mechanization reduced the need for labor. "We still had cane, tall and blue-green, on both sides of the road. Morgan on the left, Marshall on the right. But it wasn't Marshall cane anymore, Beau Boutan was leasing the plantation from the Marshall family. Beau and his family had been leasing all the land the past twenty-five, thirty years. The very same land we had worked, our people had worked, our people's people had worked since e time of slavery. Now Mr. Beau had it all. Or, I should say, he had it all up to about twelve o'clock that day." (43) The community of blacks who once cared for the land became suddenly unemployed, and most of them moved away.

While the plantation once was carefully maintained by those who worked it, now only the old remain and the plantation's buildings are deteriorating. The image of the tractor is seen near Beau's dead body and later serves as a bastion for the Cajuns during the battle. Overall it is a negative symbol that suggests increased hardships for the local blacks. The tractor was the primary tool of the Cajuns that pushed the blacks off the land.

The tractor is also shown as the symbol for the change that society is going through. In the old days Fix would have been in Marshall in a second burning down everything but he never went. His sun plays football in the same backfield as a black kid. He plays with black kids on the team and is liked very much by the blacks of the areas as...