What are the literary themes and symbols in Zora Neale Hurston's short story "Spunk"?

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This short story has a David and Goliath-esque feel, although the plot is quite different; in "Spunk," the feeble Joe attacks the mighty Spunk from behind with a razor and is shot to death. The men in the story blame Spunk for killing Joe even though he acted in self-defense, and we can infer based on character descriptions that Spunk likely could have protected himself against Joe without harming him; instead he chose to end Joe's life to remove the main obstacle in his relationship with Lena.

Major themes in the story include pride, courage versus cowardice, revenge, and the supernatural. Spunk's name indicates his pride and fear of nothing, including the saw that ultimately takes his life, and he displays a hefty sense of bravado until his encounter with Joe's ghost, which terrifies him and causes his death. In direct contrast, Joe is known as a coward until he displays courage in attacking Spunk, a direct result of Elijah's baiting of Joe's sense of pride. Although Joe's actions are...

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