The Gilded Six-Bits

by Zora Neale Hurston

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What is the author's purpose in writing "The Gilded Six-Bits"?

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The story appears to be a simple morality tale about the importance of love and forgiveness.

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There seems to be a number of important messages in this particular story. We see that one cannot judge a book by its cover, for instance. Mr. Otis Slemmons seems to be a man of some wealth and status, but when the truth is revealed, he turns out to be...

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nothing more than a trickster who attempted to fool everyone.

Likewise, Missie May proves herself to be unfaithful in her marriage to Joe, despite their apparent love for one another. However, we also see that redemption and forgiveness are possible. Joe does eventually forgive his wife for her infidelity once she proves that she does, in fact, love him and want to be with him. They end up having a child together and Joe spends the gilded coin on candies for Missie May and their son.

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This story was written by Ms. Hurston in 1933.  During this time she was going through a rough patch with her husband who she later divorced. She had three marriages over all. 

One of the reasons she wrote this love story about Joe and Missie Banks was to relate, to the reader, the good things, and the bad, of marriage in general and themes speific to African American couples.  The desire to show the reader what is important in a relationship and what is not important is very clear in this story.

As a black woman Hurston was very familiar with the power of man of the house and him being the bread winner.  It was common during this era that the man supported his wife and brought home the money, while the wife, in turn, furnished him with a clean house, meals, children, and sex. 

Ms. Hurston was also trying to give the reader an intimatelook into the African American culture as husband and wife. the theme of not only love but also forgiveness.  We see this theme when Joe catches Missie being unfaithful to him with Mr. Slemmons and yet he forgives her.

This story is  result of her bad marriages and her study in anthropology.  She was not only trying to write an entertaining story, but she was also trying to teach the reader what should be important in a marriage. 

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