Spunk

by

Zora Neale Hurston

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Spunk Banks

As the eponymous character, Spunk could be understood as the story’s protagonist. However, through his conflict with Joe Kanty, it becomes apparent that Spunk is more suited to the role of antihero or antagonist… read analysis of Spunk Banks

Joe Kanty

The protagonist of the story, Joe Kanty is nervous, awkward and physically inferior to Spunk Banks, his rival. Joe is publically shamed and humiliated when a group of village folk witness Spunk arm in… read analysis of Joe Kanty

Lena Kanty

Lena Kanty, Joe’s wife and Spunk’s lover, is “a small pretty woman.” She is introduced when walking through the village “clinging lovingly” to Spunk. Joe and Spunk compete for Lena throughout the story… read analysis of Lena Kanty

Elijah Mosley

Elijah works at the sawmill with Spunk Banks and admires him greatly for his strength and gumption. Frequenting the general store after work, Elijah enjoys gossiping and telling stories to the men there, who often… read analysis of Elijah Mosley

Walter Thomas

Walter Thomas is unique in that he is the only man in the village to speak out against perceived injustices (save for Joe Kanty, whose version of speaking up is meek and ineffective). Walter… read analysis of Walter Thomas
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The Men in the General Store

Having worked a hard day of physical labor at the sawmill, the local men fraternize at the general store, drinking and swapping stories. They represent a toxic expression of masculinity in the way that they… read analysis of The Men in the General Store

Jeff Kanty

Old Jeff Kanty, Joe’s father, plays an important symbolic role in the story’s ending. He arrives at Lena’s house to attend Spunk’s funeral wake. The third person narrator reveals that Jeff would… read analysis of Jeff Kanty

The Sheriff

After Joe’s murder, the villagers wait for the sheriff to arrive from Orlando, Florida, to arrest Spunk for his crime. It is likely that the sheriff would have been a white man, and, given… read analysis of The Sheriff
Minor Characters
Tes’ Miller
A local man who was killed when working on the circle saw in the past. Elijah uses the tragic tale of Tes’ Miller to illustrate Spunk’s courage and bravery on the saw.
Skint Miller
A local man who helps Elijah lift Spunk’s injured body off the saw and lay him on the ground to die.