Spunk

by

Zora Neale Hurston

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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 challenges the status quo and voices his opinions openly, seemingly unperturbed by the fierce backlash he might receive from his male peers. Firstly, Walter voices his discomfort about how the men—namely Elijah— treat Joe Kanty in the general store. Walter “grumble[s]” his disapproval of Elijah’s bullying and “chide[s]” him, warning that “Spunk will sho’ kill” Joe as a result of the men’s actions, a prediction that turns out to be true. Secondly, Walter raises concerns about the immorality of Spunk’s affair, saying “tain’t right the way he carries on wid Lena Kanty.” Finally, after Joe’s murder, Walter boldly declares that “Joe wuz a braver man than Spunk,” a statement that receives “derision” from the other men. In contrast to Elijah, Walter is interested in truth and justice. For Walter, Spunk receives the punishment he deserves when he’s faced with Joe’s ghost and has to reckon with his past immorality.

Walter Thomas Quotes in Spunk

The Spunk quotes below are all either spoken by Walter Thomas or refer to Walter Thomas. 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

“’Tain’t cause Joe’s timid at all […] If Joe was a passel of wile cats Spunk would tackle the job just the same.”

Related Characters: Elijah Mosley (speaker), Spunk Banks, Joe Kanty, Walter Thomas
Related Symbols: The Bobcat
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

“Humph!” sniffed Walter, “he oughter be nervous after what he done. Ah reckon Joe come back to dare him to marry Lena, or to come out an' fight […] Joe wuz a braver man than Spunk.”

Related Characters: Walter Thomas (speaker), Spunk Banks, Joe Kanty
Related Symbols: The Bobcat
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Spunk LitChart as a printable PDF.
Spunk PDF

Walter Thomas Character Timeline in Spunk

The timeline below shows where the character Walter Thomas 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
Storytelling Theme Icon
...Joe, arrives and orders a drink. Elijah immediately begins taunting Joe by asking after Lena. Walter tries to get Elijah to stop, but Elijah presses on, telling Joe that his wife... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...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, declaring... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Elijah ignores Walter’s warning, assuring the men that Joe is calling their “bluff.” He thinks that Spunk would... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...story about how Joe had meekly confronted Lena and Spunk the week before. Elijah denounces Walter’s accusation that Spunk only “carries on wid Lena” because her husband is timid and passive,... (full context)
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
...Orlando later arrests Spunk, but after a short trial, Spunk walks free. Some time later, Walter and Elijah discuss how Spunk and Lena have moved in together and are about to... (full context)
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Unsympathetic, Walter declares that Spunk “oughter be nervous after what he done,” and argues that Joe was... (full context)
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...discuss Spunk once more, but there is “no laughter. No badinage this time.” Elijah and Walter somberly discuss Spunk’s death as they walk slowly towards Lena’s house for the funeral wake.... (full context)