After the second time I read this book, I noticed that Ernest Gaines doesn't care to depict the protagonists in his books as particularly admirable, noble, virtuous, etc. In fact he tends to go the other way and depict them as often crude and even disgusting in their appearance and habits. I always remember one of the old black men snarling at his wife and one of the other old black men with a stale cigarette hanging out of his mouth and dropping ash on the ground. A child at the beginning of the story, surely younger than ten, is shown in the middle of what sounds like a sexual game with another child when an adult calls him home. Basically, most or all of the characters, black and white, are part of the redneck culture and Gaines chooses to describe them with complete realism.
Gaines also likes mocking the white rednecks in this book, spelling Fix Boutan's pronunciations phonetically and clearly depicting as ridiculous the process of his debate over whether he should lynch the black men. He declares to his family and friends that he alone makes these decisions for the family, and a few minutes later asks them what they think he should do.