Joe Banks
Joe Banks is Missie May's husband. Joe and Missie May are newlyweds who are demonstrably in love. Joe works the night shift at the local fertilizer plant, but he does not make very much money. When his week is over, he and Missie May enjoy a flirtatious game that begins with him rolling his pay in coins over their threshold. Their life is filled with ‘‘joyful mischief’’ and also genuine sweetness. ‘‘That was the best part of life—going home to Missie May.’’ They represent domestic harmony, each happy in his or her role and routine, until the flashy stranger Slemmons enters their life. Joe is impressed with the man's apparent wealth and his stories of success with women. He wants to show off his wife to Slemmons. When Missie May betrays Joe by having an affair with Slemmons, Joe is shocked and uncommunicative. He leaves Slemmons's gilded trinket around the house as if to remind Missie May of her failing, but when she gives birth to a son who looks just like Joe, he is able to fully forgive her. He buys her molasses kisses with the gilded coin, which represents affection and sweetness winning out over blame.

Missie May Banks
Missie May Banks is Joe's newly wed wife. She is enraptured with her new role as his spouse and with their domestic routine. Missie May is content to take care of their modest house and looks forward each day to Joe's return. Part of the couple's rapport involves playful banter and ‘‘mock battles’’ that end with her searching his pockets for candy and trinkets. However, real conflict enters the relationship when Missie May agrees to have sexual relations with Slemmons, a pretentious outsider who promises her gold that she knows Joe admires...

(The entire section is 716 words.)