Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

By the time Hurston wrote and published “The Gilded Six-Bits,” she had clearly mastered the short-story genre. This story was her last published short work before she turned to the novel as her preferred genre. Its length, greater than many of her other stories, suggests she was ready to tackle a longer narrative. In this story, Hurston provides an adequate exposition of the facts and then spends most of her time examining the complex realities of the aftermath of the marital betrayal. As usual, she is adept at portraying the emotional responses of both the male and female protagonists, a skill not often recognized by her critics.

As with all of her works, Hurston approaches “The Gilded Six-Bits” with much regard for her setting, her characters, and her subject matter. Therefore, while she foregrounds the black folk, she does so with care and compassion that underscores her ability to portray them in a realistic fashion. Dialect and colorful turns of phrase are used to illuminate character and culture but are never used to condescend to or condemn. Although the events in the story run the gamut from comic to tragic, Hurston uses this range of emotions to further her argument that such responses are human and common, even in the lives of black folk. On another level, the reader can readily ascertain Hurston’s fascination with the culture of black folk, as seen, for example, in Missie May’s adornment of her kitchen and her garden in a way that becomes an important aspect of Hurston’s cultural theory of the African American’s desire to adorn.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Eatonville, Florida
‘‘The Gilded Six-Bits’’ is set in Eatonville, Florida, which was the first incorporated...

(The entire section is 784 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Hurston begins the story with description of its setting that uses the same adjective repetitively: ‘‘It...

(The entire section is 741 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

  • 1930s: The U.S. economy suffers from a crippling economic depression. Older industries, such as the automotive,...

(The entire section is 427 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

  • What are Missie May's motivations for betraying Joe by sleeping with Otis Slemmons? Do you think Joe bears some of the responsibility for...

(The entire section is 218 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Short Stories for Students)

  • ‘‘The Gilded Six-Bits,’’ read by Renee Joshua-Porter, is included on an audiocassette entitled Stories by Zora Neale...

(The entire section is 23 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

(The entire section is 210 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Burris, Andrew. Review, reprinted in Zora Neale Hurston: Critical Perspectives, Past and Present,...

(The entire section is 386 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Awkward, Michael, ed. New Essays on “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Boyd, Valerie. Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Scribner, 2003.

Campbell, Josie P. Student Companion to Zora Neale Hurston. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Croft, Robert W. A Zora Neale Hurston Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Cronin, Gloria L., ed. Critical Essays on Zora Neale Hurston. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.

Grant, Nathan. Masculinist Impulses: Toomer, Hurston, Black Writing, and Modernity. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2004.

Hemenway, Robert E. Zora Neale Hurston. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977. Reprint. London: Camden Press, 1986.

Hill, Lynda Marion. Social Rituals and the Verbal Art of Zora Neale Hurston. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1996.

Hurston, Lucy Anne. Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Doubleday, 2004.

Jones, Sharon L. Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class, and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Lyons, Mary E. Sorrow’s Kitchen: The Life and Folklore of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990.

McGlamery, Tom. Protest and the Body in Melville, Dos Passos, and Hurston. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Miles, Diana. Women, Violence, and Testimony in the Works of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: P. Lang, 2003.

Pierpont, Claudia Roth. Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Wright, Melanie J. Moses in America: The Cultural Uses of Biblical Narrative. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.