Oral Storytelling: Resistance and Freeing Voices from the Deep South in Ernest Gaines’s A Gathering of Old Men


The study sheds light on the folkloric tradition of oral storytelling which has been used as an act of resistance in Ernest Gaines’s A Gathering of Old Men (1983). The marginalized black characters decide to voice their tragedies so as to empower each other to counter the discourse of White supremacy. This tradition becomes a measure of reaching sustainable socio-cultural transformation in the black community. More specifically, the paper relates storytelling, a process of telling personal narratives from an African vantage point, to the theory of Afrocentricity put forward by African-American theorist, Molefe Kete Asante. Steeped in African orature, storytelling endows the African subject with agency to move from the margin to the center. The paper considers how this agency is created throughout this process enabling the disempowered subjects to become speaking powers in recounting their stories and in deciding their own fate in a racist society. Also, it answers the question: How can their oral narratives represent the essential human experience of resistance and transformation, particularly when the social context is one of extreme oppression and violence?


Faiza Mahfouf and Mahmoud F. Al-Shetawi


African-Americans, Afrocentricity, agency, oral storytelling, resistance