Spunk

by

Zora Neale Hurston

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Lena Kanty Character Analysis

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, but her voice is markedly absent throughout. Lena’s only line of dialogue is reported through Elijah Mosley, who recounts an altercation between Lena, Joe, and Spunk the week before. According to Elijah, when Joe pleaded Lena to return home to him, she “looked at him real disgusted,” until Spunk grabbed her by the arm and declared, “Lena, youse mine.” Lena is remarkably passive until she “speaks up” to explain that she wants to at least remain in her house because it was passed down to her by her father. Lena’s autonomy and agency is immediately undermined, however, when Spunk warns her that, although she can keep her house, “when youse inside don’t forgit youse mine.” Elijah reports that Lena looked at Spunk with “eyes so full of love that they wuz runnin’ over,” but it’s possible that Lena’s tears symbolize the fear she feels under Spunk’s controlling demands. Lena’s body is not only a site of desire and control for Joe and Spunk, but also a battleground for them to assert their competing masculinities.

Lena Kanty Quotes in Spunk

The Spunk quotes below are all either spoken by Lena Kanty or refer to Lena Kanty. 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:
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Spunk published in 1996.
Spunk Quotes

A giant of a brown skinned man sauntered up the one street of the Village and out into the palmetto thickets with a small pretty woman clinging lovingly to his arm.

Related Characters: Spunk Banks, Lena Kanty
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

“Call her and see if she'll come. A woman knows her boss an' she answers when he calls.”

Related Characters: Elijah Mosley (speaker), Spunk Banks, Joe Kanty, Lena Kanty
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lena Kanty Character Timeline in Spunk

The timeline below shows where the character Lena Kanty appears in Spunk. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Spunk
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
...giant of a brown skinned man,” struts through the only street in the village with Lena, Joe Kanty’s wife, on his arm. Spunk’s bold parade elicits admiration from Elijah, who praises... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Moments later, Lena’s husband, Joe, arrives and orders a drink. Elijah immediately begins taunting Joe by asking after... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
...declares to the “men lounging in the general store” that he is going to “fetch” Lena back. As he speaks, Joe pulls a “hollow ground razor” from his pocket, declaring that... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
The men laugh “boisterously” as they watch Joe “shamble woodward” in search of Spunk and Lena. Walter warns Elijah that he and the other men have sent Joe to his death,... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Elijah then tells a story about how Joe had meekly confronted Lena and Spunk the week before. Elijah denounces Walter’s accusation that Spunk only “carries on wid... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Elijah reports how Lena was “disgusted” by her husband when he begged for her to come back to him,... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
While Lena cries, Spunk claims that Joe cowardly tried to attack him from behind, so Spunk was... (full context)
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
...short trial, Spunk walks free. Some time later, Walter and Elijah discuss how Spunk and Lena have moved in together and are about to get married. The conversation then shifts to... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
According to Elijah, on Spunk’s first night in the house with Lena, he was startled when a massive black bobcat prowled around the exterior of the house,... (full context)
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...badinage this time.” Elijah and Walter somberly discuss Spunk’s death as they walk slowly towards Lena’s house for the funeral wake. Elijah explains how Spunk fell onto the circle saw at... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
At the funeral wake, Lena grieves passionately. When Jeff Kanty arrives, he takes pleasure in imagining himself as the saw... (full context)