In “The Gilded Six-Bits,” Zora Neale Hurston employs various techniques to depict the main couple, Joe and Missy May. Drawing from her own life experiences, Hurston characterizes their marriage and showcases their character development through her distinct writing styles and techniques. These methods effectively depict the reactions and responses between Joe and Missy May, enhancing the progression of their relationship. Hurston reinforces her character development through her writing style, their dialect, and incorporates her own life experiences to render a sense of realism to their personalities. Furthermore, Hurston’s own tumultuous marital history influences her portrayal of Joe and Missy May’s marriage in the story, marked by infidelity and animosity.
The strength of Joe and Missy May’s marriage is tested by Missy May’s infidelity, but their relationship ultimately overcomes the challenges. It is possible that Hurston spared Joe and Missy May’s marriage to prove to herself that marriages can endure infidelity, as her own marriages did not survive difficulties. Hurston viewed marriage as a significant commitment that allows for forgiveness and recommitment. In creating Joe, Hurston portrays a character who is able to forgive and forget, perhaps reflecting her own expectations or desires in her husbands. By drawing from her own life experiences, Hurston presents her characters as relatable to readers. She includes ample dialect and interactions between Joe and Missy May to depict the authenticity of her characters. The story begins with Missy anxiously awaiting Joe’s return home from work.
Upon his arrival, Joe and Missy May engage in flirtatious play fights and wrestle, displaying a whirlwind of male and female energy. Joe consistently surprises Missy May with candy kisses hidden in his pockets, sparking a playful search filled with excitement. The couple affectionately refer to each other as “sugar,” “honey,” and other endearing terms throughout the story. When Missy May confesses her infidelity to Joe, she feels ashamed to rise from bed in the presence of the unfamiliar man. In response, Joe calmly tells her not to dwell on the past and compares her actions to Lot’s wife turning into salt. Joe’s intention is to keep their focus on the future, showcasing either his mature attitude towards moving forward or his immature attempt to ignore the past.
Joe and Missy may have a strong and loving marriage, but their relationship was tested when Joe cheated on Missy. This experience showed the authenticity of their relationship and how they both learned and grew from this difficult situation. Zora Neale Hurston, through her writing style and personal experiences, accurately portrays Joe and Missy’s true selves. Hurston allows us to witness the evolution of Joe and Missy through their interactions and reactions towards each other. Their dialect further emphasizes the reality within their relationship.