The Gilded Six-Bits

by Zora Neale Hurston

Start Free Trial

Missy May is talking to Joe before she leaves to get dressed and says, “Joe, Ah hates to see you so dumb. Dat stray nigger jes’ tell y’all anything and y’all b’lieve it.” How does this exemplify Joe's character?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

‘‘The Gilded Six-Bits’’, by Zora Neale Hurston, is a story where innocence and naivete are ever-present.

We see innocence in the relationship of Joe and his wife, Missy May, and their everyday routine as newlyweds. Their dynamics indicate that they are in love with each other as well as in love with their new-found married life. They are basically two young people in love who are able to "play house" as much as they want. They may not have a lot of money, but they make the best of what they have.

We also see naivete in both Joe and Missy May when they both become dazzled by Otis Slemmons, a business owner and newcomer to the town. Joe is impressed by Slemmons's talk and the outer image that Slemmons shows off with his gold watch and the stories he tells about himself as a ladies' man. Missy May seems to be more impressed with what Otis Slemmons could offer her husband for potential employment, since they are not making a good living as a family. Yet, Joe and Missy end up disillusioned when they realize that Slemmons is a fake and a very bad man who even cuckolds Joe.

When Missy May says the words

Joe, Ah hates to see you so dumb. Dat stray nigger jes’ tell y’all anything and y’all b’lieve it

she is basically stating the fact that Joe is quite naive, dangerously innocent, and prone to be taken for a fool because he takes everything at face value. He does not seem to have the natural malice that most men have to detect whether other people are good or bad. He does not even have the typical angst that any man would develop after knowing that his wife has been intimate with another man!

Therefore, we can safely assume that Missy May is clearly saying that Joe is, indeed, a bit "dumb" in the sense of believing everything he hears and trusting anyone who comes his way.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Posted on