What is a possible thesis statement for the story The Gilded Six-Bits by Zora Neale Hurston?

Expert Answers
nanmarc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A great way to begin crafting a thesis statement is to make brief notations while reading the story, particularly regarding details you find most interesting, and then choose a topic you'd like to expound upon based on your notes. Are there questions or issues which the story brings up that you'd like to explore? Are there topics mentioned that you'd like to know more about? Does the story remind you of themes or plots from other literary works that you've read and can connect? Here are three possible thesis statements for an essay on this short story:

Hurston uses the pursuit of gold in "The Gilded Six-Bits" to show that an infatuation with wealth can be destructive and unsatisfying, while a simple, contented lifestyle can be both respectable and idyllic.

In this ode to the richness of black culture, Hurston contrasts Missie May and Joe's idyllic life alone together with the damaging worldliness introduced by Slemmons, a big city nomad who values wealth and whiteness.

Hurston utilizes this story to highlight varying manifestations of love, from the affectionate, lighthearted beginning of a new marriage to its damaged state following infidelity, ultimately showing that love can endure through great obstacles when commitment and determination are present.

tresvivace eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An excellent way to develop a thesis statement is to explore the character development in this fine story and build your essay around these characters.  While Zora Neale Hurston is noted for her strong female characters, in this story she imbues the character Joe with goodness and integrity.  A strong thesis statement for an essay exploring both these characters might go something like this: 

Although innocence and joy underlie the love of Missie May and Joe, the threat to their life together wrought by the fiendish Slemmons ultimately leads to growth in both characters as understanding, forgiveness, and new life bring their love to fruition. 

Similarly, you might develop a thesis that announces your choice to use symbolism in your essay.  Such a thesis might go like this:

Missie May and Joe are living a blissful married life in their Eden-like world when Slemmons, representing the serpent's intrusion in paradise, tempts Missie May, ultimately bringing about the need for forgiveness and redemption. 

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You can get a lot of good ideas for thesis statements by visiting the "Themes" link to Hurston's story (below). 

One I can offer you, however, (and is discussed in the "Themes" page) is to consider the differences between appearance and reality.  You might want to go with something as straight-forward as "The old adage "all that glitters is not gold" is certainly true in Zora Neale Hurston's story of two characters , Missy Mae and Joe, blinded by what-seems-to be.  It will be take some time before reality takes precedence over appearance and true gold is realized to be something more intangible than tangible." 

Read the study guide:
The Gilded Six-Bits

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question