The Emperor Jones

by

Eugene O’Neill

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The Silver Bullet Symbol Icon

The silver bullet represents Jones's tenuous hold on power. Jones clings to his one silver bullet the same way he clings to his emperorship, and refuses to let either of them go. When he finally does shoot the crocodile god with his final silver bullet, it symbolizes Jones's final step in his return to being a man. Further, the fear involved in Jones's decision to use the silver bullet makes it abundantly clear that Jones has truly returned to being human, and that with the acceptance of fear, Jones also rejects his godliness.

The Silver Bullet Quotes in The Emperor Jones

The The Emperor Jones quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Silver Bullet. 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 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:
Scene 7 Quotes

What—what is I doin'? What is—dis place? Seems like—seems like I know dat tree—an' dem stones—an' de river. I remember—seems like I been heah befo'.

Related Characters: Brutus Jones (speaker), The Witch Doctor
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 8 Quotes

Well, they did for yer right enough, Jonsey, me lad! Dead as a 'erring! Where's yer 'igh an' mighty airs now, yer bloomin' Majesty? Silver bullets! Gawd blimey, but yer died in the 'eighth o' style, any'ow!

Related Characters: Smithers (speaker), Brutus Jones, Lem
Related Symbols: The Silver Bullet
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Emperor Jones LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Emperor Jones PDF

The Silver Bullet Symbol Timeline in The Emperor Jones

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Silver Bullet appears in The Emperor Jones. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 1
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...that Smithers thinks this was all luck, but Smithers insists that the trick with the silver bullet is absolutely luck. Jones laughs and agrees, but explains that he made that luck by... (full context)
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...which isn't luck. Smithers points out that the natives will never be able to obtain silver bullets , and it was only luck that the native's gun malfunctioned. Laughing, Jones says that... (full context)
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...the subject. He asks Jones if the rumors are true that he actually had a silver bullet made, and Jones explains that he did. Jones says that he told the natives that... (full context)
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
Astonished, Smithers asks again if Jones actually had a silver bullet made. Jones pulls out his revolver, unloads it, and pulls out five lead bullets and... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
...ignores this and suggests that it might be time for Jones to resign and use his silver bullet . (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
History and Collective Memory Theme Icon
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...he has five lead bullets to shoot the natives, and then he'll shoot himself with his silver bullet . Smithers jeers that Jones will die in style, and Jones says that he'll play... (full context)
History and Collective Memory Theme Icon
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...the Church will protect Jones. He reminds Smithers again that he also has his lucky silver bullet . (full context)
Scene 6
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...can barely filter through. Jones asks God what he'll do now, since he only has his silver bullet left, and he needs to save that for luck. He remarks that it's very dark,... (full context)
Scene 7
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...hear his prayers. As he cries out, Jones reaches for his gun. He shouts that his silver bullet will keep the crocodile from getting him, and he shoots the crocodile between the eyes.... (full context)
Scene 8
Racism Theme Icon
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...Smithers asks how Lem knows that Jones is dead. Lem explains that his men have silver bullets , and when Smithers looks astonished, Lem elaborates that since lead bullets couldn't kill Jones,... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
History and Collective Memory Theme Icon
Power and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Godliness, Humanity, and Fear Theme Icon
...his "airs" are now. Smithers smiles and remarks that Jones did die in style, with silver bullets and all. Lem motions for the soldiers to carry Jones away, and Smithers turns to... (full context)