gilded six bits zora neale hurston Literature Review

Pages: 3 (1445 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - African-American  ·  Written: June 9, 2018

Slemmons does have a tendency to boast, show off, and most likely exaggerate or even lie. Missie May even accuses Slemmons of being a liar, saying “he kin lie jes\' lak anybody else,” in response to his showing off about how women are crazy about him. Moreover, Slemmons seems to have made his money not by entrepreneurial ventures or hard work, but via sugar mommies: women who apparently “give it all to \'im.” Missie May seems turned off to Slemmons, but after spending more time with him, starts to fantasize about what easy money could bring to her life. Because she knows Joe will never be able to make money as fast and readily as Slemmons, Missie May decides—presumably—that she will sleep with Slemmons to get a taste of his easy money. Missie May essentially prostitutes herself, and the shame of this and of betraying Joe eat away at her and would have destroyed the marriage were it not for Joe’s wisdom and forgiveness. While Joe remains the bulwark of the marriage, Missie May is the character who changes the most in “The Gilded Six Bits,” making her a more pure protagonist. Moreover, Missie May is the character that most contributes to the evolution of the themes of Hurston’s story.

Literature Review on gilded six bits zora neale hurston Assignment

Slemmons, on the other hand, is a catalyst character. He is drawn thinly and weakly, shown mainly as a man who waltzes into town and leaves just as easily as he came. The shallow relationships he builds with other people are apt counterparts for his superficial character. Even if Slemmons is telling the truth about his female entourage, the source of his supposed wealth, he is cocky and boastful and uses money not to make the world a better place but for personal aggrandizement. Slemmons uses both money and sexuality as sources of power. He uses women to gain both money and power. His lack of integrity is especially evident when Joe catches him in bed with Missie May. Instead of facing the truth, Slemmons tries to run and hide: he “looked at the window, but it was screened.” Slemmons does not value the work ethic aspect of the American Dream, but only the notion that one can make easy money by taking advantage of others. Slemmons does, however, contribute to the theme of the story by embodying all that is wrong with the blind devotion to the dollar. His money is fake, both literally and figuratively. Slemmons tries to pass off gilded silver dollars as real gold coins. He also did not make any of his money through business ventures, but apparently only from white women who succumb to his seduction. The ice cream parlor serves as a symbol for Slemmons, who sells a product that has no endurance or substantive nutritional value. Ultimately, he was just “Tryin\' to fool people. Makin\' out he so rich and everything.”

Whereas Missie May transforms from a naive newlywed to a mature wife and mother, Slemmons changes not at all. In fact, Slemmons represents an aspect of American life and the skewed value system of capitalism. Slemmons does, however, initiate the character changes that take place within Missie May. From her silly dalliance with Slemmons, Missie May comes to appreciate Joe on a deeper level than she even had before. While she always loved and had deep respect for her husband, she had no idea how faithful and unwavering his commitment to her actually was. Furthermore, her experience being fooled by the gilded six-bit piece teaches Missie May a lesson about being fooled by glamor and appearances. Not only does money not buy happiness, but the promise of easy money rarely provides the deep satisfaction that a well-lived life has to offer. People should not be valued for their wealth, but how they treat others, how they live their lives, and how much they are willing to grow, learn and change. Slemmons values the superficiality of money and power; Missie May values integrity and ethics.


“Description of the Characters in \"The Gilded Six-Bits\" by Hurston,” Seattle PI.

Hurston, Z.N. (1933). The gilded six-bits. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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