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The Gilded Six-bits

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    In “The Gilded Six-Bits,” Zora Neale Hurston uses several of different techniques to characterize Joe and Missy May, the main couple through out the story. Hurston uses her own life experiences to characterize Joe and Missy May and their marriage. She also shows their character development through her writing styles and techniques, which show reactions and responses between Joe and Missy May to strengthen the development of their relationship. Hurston supports her character development through her writing style, her characters dialect, and includes experiences from her own life to portray a sense of reality to her character’s personalities. Zora Neale Hurston has been married and divorced twice, which assisted her in developing Joe and Missy May’s marriage. Hurston’s rocky marriage occurred just prior to the writing of “The Gilded Six-Bits” which portrays a marriage replete with infidelity and hatred. Missy May’s infidelity tests the strength of her marriage with Joe, which ultimately succeeds the trials and tribulations. Perhaps Hurston spared Joe and Missy May’s marriage to prove to herself that marriages can stand through infidelity, because neither of her marriages continued through the hardships. Hurston saw marriage as an important commitment capable of forgiveness and recommitment. Hurston creates Joe, as the character that forgives and forgets, possibly this is what she expected or desired in her own husbands. Hurston uses her own life experiences to depict her characters as realistic to the readers. Hurston gives her readers a plentiful amount of dialect and reactions between Joe and his wife, Missy May, to represent the reality of her characters. Hurston opens the story with Missy anxiously awaiting Joe’s return home from work. Upon his arrival, they have flirtatious play fights and wrestle in “a furious mass of male and female energy”. Joe always placed candy kisses home to Missy May for her to discover in his pockets during a frantic, yet playful search. Throughout “The Gilded Six-Bits” Joe and Missy May continually refer to each other as “sugar,” “honey”, and other endearing names. After Missy May has exposed her infidelity to Joe she realizes that “with this strange man in her bed, she felt embarrassed to get up and dress” Joe calmly reply’s “Missy May you cry too much. Don’t look back like Lot’s wife and turn to salt.” Joe does not want his wife to concentrate on the past; he aspires to keep all focus on the future with his wife. This character trait, which Joe shows, can either portray his maturity of moving forward – or it portrays his immaturity trying to ignore the past. Joe and Missy may have an excellent marriage set on a solid foundation of love, caring, and understanding, yet this incident of infidelity threatened to destroy the relationship that they have built up. Going through this incident shows the realness of their relationship, and how both have grown from this hardship. Zora Neale Hurston depicts the realness of Joe and Missy May through her writing style and by including her life experiences. Hurston lets us see the development of Joe and Missy May through their reactions and responses to each other. Their dialect supports the presence of reality in their relationship.

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    The Gilded Six-bits. (2018, Dec 29). Retrieved from

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