The Emperor Jones

by

Eugene O’Neill

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Jones's Uniform Symbol Icon

When the reader or audience first meets Jones, his uniform is ostentatious and dripping with decoration—it's the true mark of an emperor. As Jones encounters the apparitions in the woods, however, his uniform gradually tears, and he takes it off to escape the heat. In this way, while the uniform itself represents Jones's emperorship, its gradual disintegration symbolizes Jones's return to being truly human. This offers the reader or viewer a way to track Jones's progress from godlike figure to man.

Jones's Uniform Quotes in The Emperor Jones

The The Emperor Jones quotes below all refer to the symbol of Jones's Uniform. 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:
Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The Emperor Jones published in 2011.
Scene 1 Quotes

Talk polite, white man! Talk polite, you heah me! I'm boss heah now, is you fergettin'?

Related Characters: Brutus Jones (speaker), Smithers
Related Symbols: The Color White, Jones's Uniform
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

No use'n you rakin' up ole times. What I was den is one thing. What I is now 's another.

Related Characters: Brutus Jones (speaker), Smithers
Related Symbols: The Color White, Jones's Uniform
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

Does you think I'd slink out de back door like a common nigger? I'se Emperor yit, ain't I? And de Emperor Jones leaves de way he comes, and dat black trash don't dare stop him—not yit, leastways.

Related Characters: Brutus Jones (speaker), Smithers
Related Symbols: The Color White, Jones's Uniform
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 3 Quotes

Dis am a long night fo' yo', yo' Majesty! Majesty! Der ain't much majesty 'bout dis baby now. Never min'. It's all part o' de game. Dis night come to an end like everything else.

Related Characters: Brutus Jones (speaker)
Related Symbols: Jones's Uniform
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 4 Quotes

Damn dis heah coat! Like a straight-jacket!...And to hell wid dese high-fangled spurs. Dey're what's been a-trippin' me up an' breakin' my neck. Dere! I gits rid o' dem frippety Emperor trappin's an' I travels lighter.

Related Characters: Brutus Jones (speaker)
Related Symbols: Jones's Uniform
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 6 Quotes

Oh, Lawd, what I gwine do now? Ain't got no bullet left on'y de silver one. If mo' o' dem ha'nts come after me, how I gwine skeer dem away? Oh, Lawd, on'y de silver one left—an' I gotta save dat fo' luck. If I shoots dat one I'm a goner sho'!

Related Characters: Brutus Jones (speaker)
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Emperor Jones LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Emperor Jones PDF

Jones's Uniform Symbol Timeline in The Emperor Jones

The timeline below shows where the symbol Jones's Uniform appears in The Emperor Jones. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 1
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
Jones, the emperor, enters the throne room, dressed in a blue and red military uniform covered in gold chains and brass buttons. When he sees that none of his servants... (full context)
Scene 3
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...himself to cheer up as he wipes his sweaty face and picks at his torn uniform. Jones wonders what time it is, but decides to not light a match to check... (full context)
Scene 4
History and Collective Memory Theme Icon
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...sky. A road runs through the forest, illuminated by moonlight. Jones stumbles onto it, his uniform more torn and looking very ragged. When he notices he's on a road, he seems... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
History and Collective Memory Theme Icon
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...sighs again and remarks that he'll be able to travel faster without the "frippety" emperor uniform. He pauses and listens to the tom-tom, noticing that even though he's covered a lot... (full context)
Scene 5
History and Collective Memory Theme Icon
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...the clearing, looks around as though he's being hunted, and slinks to the stump. His pants are shredded, and his shoes are falling off his feet. After looking around for a... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...ghosts. Shuddering, Jones looks down at his feet and groans. As he studies his tattered shoes, Jones decides they're only making his feet hurt more. He takes off his shoes, holds... (full context)
History and Collective Memory Theme Icon
As Jones sits and stares at his shoes, a silent crowd enters the clearing. The crowd is comprised of white people dressed in... (full context)
Scene 6
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...must rest. As he enters the clearing, he flings himself facedown on the ground. His pants are so torn and tattered that they're little more than a loincloth. (full context)