Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

by

August Wilson

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Joe Turner’s Come and Gone can help.

Joe Turner Character Analysis

The brother of the governor of Tennessee, and based on the historical figure Joe Turney. Joe Turner captures groups of black men and forces them to work for him, essentially enslaving them. After seven years, he lets them go. When Herald Loomis was a preacher, he stopped on the road one day to speak to a group of gamblers, at which point Joe Turner and his men descended upon the scene and captured him. Even though Loomis was set free after seven years of forced labor, Joe Turner still looms large in his mind, having broken up his family and derailed his life’s trajectory.

Joe Turner Quotes in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

The Joe Turner’s Come and Gone quotes below are all either spoken by Joe Turner or refer to Joe Turner. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone published in 1988.
Act One: Scene One Quotes

Now, I can look at you, Mr. Loomis, and see you a man who done forgot his song. Forgot how to sing it. A fellow forget that and he forget who he is. Forget how he’s supposed to mark down life. Now, I used to travel all up and down this road and that…looking here and there. Searching. Just like you, Mr. Loomis. I didn’t know what I was searching for. The only thing I knew was something was keeping me dissatisfied. Something wasn’t making my heart smooth and easy. Then one day my daddy gave me a song. That song had a weight to it that was hard to handle. That song was hard to carry. I fought against it. Didn’t want to accept that song. I tried to find my daddy to give him back the song. But I found out it wasn’t his song. It was my song. It had come from way deep inside me. I looked long back in memory and gathered up pieces and snatches of things to make that song. I was making it up out of myself. And that song helped me on the road.

Related Characters: Bynum Walker (speaker), Herald Loomis, Joe Turner
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Joe Turner’s Come and Gone LitChart as a printable PDF.
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone PDF

Joe Turner Character Timeline in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

The timeline below shows where the character Joe Turner appears in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One: Scene One
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
...her mother ran away, she says, “I don’t know. My daddy say some man named Joe Turner did something bad to him once and that made her run away.” Reuben then expresses... (full context)
Act Two: Scene Two
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
...in the parlor playing dominoes while Bynum sings an old blues song. “They tell me Joe Turner ’s come and gone,” he sings, eventually drawing Herald into the room. “Why you singing... (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
...got it with him all the time. That’s why I can tell you one of Joe Turner ’s niggers.” (full context)
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
“How you see that?” Herald asks. “I got a mark on me? Joe Turner done marked me to where you can see it?” In response, Bynum merely sings the... (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
Still telling his story to Seth and Bynum, Herald says that Joe Turner let him go after seven years of forced labor, at which point he went back... (full context)
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
Bynum asks Herald why Joe Turner captured him, but Loomis says he never even got physically close enough to the man... (full context)
Act Two: Scene Five
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
...“Herald,” she says, “I didn’t know if you was ever coming back. They told me Joe Turner had you and my whole world split half in two.” (full context)
Migration and Transience Theme Icon
Racism in Post-Slavery America Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
...Herald doesn’t believe him. “Everywhere I go people wanna bind me up,” he says. “ Joe Turner wanna bind me up! […] You wanna bind me up. Everybody wanna bind me up.... (full context)