what would Joe Bank's character be idenitified as in the story?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The character of Joe Banks in Zora Neale Hurston's "The Gilded Six-Bits" is that of a adult black male living in the all-black community of Eatonville, Florida. This community is one of many post-Civil War racially homogeneous towns also known as "race colonies" to which many black families could move and start a new life in a place where people share similar backgrounds.

As one of Eatonville residents, Joe has also started his adult life with a job at fertilizer plant and marries his new bride, Missy May with whom he lives in not that much comfort.

As a man, Joe does not quite fit the profile of the strong, protective male figure that any woman would want as a husband. This, first, because Joe only works the night shift, leaving his wife alone every night, unsafe and prone to danger. Second, because Joe seems to believe everything he hears and takes everything he sees at face-value. Third, because Joe does not have enough malice to discern the true intentions of the people with whom he comes across.

Despite of his many weaknesses, Joe is overall a good man and husband. He does love Missy May and suffers terribly after finding her in a compromised situation with Otis Slemmons. From the start of the story we can appreciate his true affection for Missy May and his honest desire to have a happy marriage. Even when his wife becomes pregnant, he waits until the child is born to basically prove to himself that there is a reason to continue working the marriage, even after Missy's infidelity.

Therefore, we can attest to the fact that Joe is basically a good man who goes through a very ugly and bad situation which he tries to work out the only way that he knows how: Patiently hoping for the best and listening first to the mandates of his heart, and not his reason.

Read the study guide:
The Gilded Six-Bits

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