The Gilded Six Bits

Joe is the husband of Missie May Banks. Together the couple lives in Eatonville, Florida, where Joe is employed by the G. and G. Fertilizer works. Joe takes delight in providing for Missie May and even buying her treats. Every Saturday afternoon, Joe comes home from work and throws silver dollars in the door for his wife to pick up and pile beside her plate at dinner. He also buys small gifts like candy kisses and hides them in his pockets for his wife to find. Joe introduces Missie May to Otis D. Slemmons’ new ice cream parlor. He initially admires Slemmons’ wealthy persona, but he says he is satisfied with his life because he is married to Missie May. Joe is an emotional man, sensitive to natural beauty such as the reflection of the moon on the lake, and eager to become a father. When he discovers Missie May’s betrayal, he ultimately hits Slemmons and grabs his gilded watch charm, which he later leaves under his wife’s pillow after they sleep together. Even while the couple is estranged, however, Joe still welcomes Missie May’s care and cares for her in turn, refusing to let her chop wood when he sees that she is pregnant. After the baby is born, Joe acknowledges the child as his son and brings home candy and silver dollars for Missie May as he used to do.

Joe Banks Quotes in The Gilded Six Bits

The The Gilded Six Bits quotes below are all either spoken by Joe Banks or refer to Joe Banks. 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:
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of The Gilded Six Bits published in 1995.
The Gilded Six-Bits Quotes

It was a Negro yard around a Negro house in a Negro settlement that looked to the payroll of the G. and G. Fertilizer works for its support. But there was something happy about the place.

Related Characters: Missie May Banks, Joe Banks
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
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She had not seen the big tall man come stealing in the gate and creep up the walk grinning happily at the joyful mischief he was about to commit. But she knew that it was her husband throwing silver dollars in the door for her to pick up and pile beside her plate at dinner. It was this way every Saturday afternoon.

Related Characters: Missie May Banks, Joe Banks
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

A new man done come heah from Chicago and he done got a place and took and opened it up for a ice cream parlor.... Mister Otis D. Slemmons, of spots and places—Memphis, Chicago, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and so on.

Related Characters: Joe Banks (speaker), Missie May Banks, Otis D. Slemmons
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“His mouf is cut cross-ways, ain’t it? Well, he kin lie jes’ lak anybody else.”

“Good Lawd, Missie! You womens sho is hard to sense into things. He’s got a five-dollar gold piece for a stick-pin and he got a ten-dollar gold piece on his watch chain and his mouf is jes’ crammed full of gold teethes…And womens give it all to ‘im.”

Related Characters: Missie May Banks (speaker), Joe Banks (speaker), Otis D. Slemmons
Related Symbols: Otis Slemmons’ “Gold”
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

That was the best part of life—going home to Missie May. Their white-washed house, the mock battle on Saturday, the dinner and ice cream parlor afterwards, church on Sunday nights when Missie May out-dressed any woman in town—all, everything was right.

Related Characters: Missie May Banks, Joe Banks
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

As Joe rounded the lake on his way home, a lean moon rode the lake in a silver boat.... It made him yearn painfully for Missie. Creation obsessed him. He thought about children. They had been married more than a year now. They had money put away. They ought to be making little feet for shoes.

Related Characters: Missie May Banks, Joe Banks
Related Symbols: Sun and Moon
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
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By the match light he could see the man’s legs fighting with his breeches in his frantic desire to get them on. He had both chance and time to kill the intruder in his helpless condition…but he was too weak to take action. The shapeless enemies of humanity that live in the hours of Time had waylaid Joe. He was assaulted in his weakness. Like Samson awakening after his haircut. So he just opened his mouth and laughed.

Related Characters: Joe Banks, Otis D. Slemmons
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

There were no more Saturday romps. No ringing silver dollars to stack beside her plate. No pockets to rifle. In fact the yellow coin in his trousers was like a monster hiding in the cave of his pockets to destroy her.

Related Characters: Missie May Banks, Joe Banks
Related Symbols: Otis Slemmons’ “Gold”
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Before morning, youth triumphed and Missie exulted. But the next day, as she joyfully made up their bed, beneath her pillow she found the piece of money with the bit of chain attached…She took it into her hands with trembling and saw first thing that it was no gold piece. It was a gilded half dollar.

Related Symbols: Otis Slemmons’ “Gold”
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Dat’s yourn all right, if you never git another one, dat un is yourn. And you know Ah’m mighty proud too, son, cause Ah never thought well of you marryin’ Missie May cause her ma used tuh fan her foot round right smart and Ah been mighty skeered dat Missie May wuz gointer git misput on her road.

Related Characters: Joe’s Mother (speaker), Missie May Banks, Joe Banks
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“Hello, Joe,” the clerk greeted him. “Ain’t seen you in a long time.”

“Nope, Ah ain’t been heah. Been round in spots and places.”

“Want some of them molasses kisses you always buy?”

“Yessuh.” He threw the gilded half dollar on the counter. “Will dat spend?”

Related Characters: Joe Banks (speaker), Candy Store Clerk (speaker)
Related Symbols: Otis Slemmons’ “Gold”
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Back in Eatonville, Joe reached his own front door. There was the ring of singing metal on wood. Fifteen times. Missie May couldn’t run to the door, but she crept there as quickly as she could.

“Joe Banks, Ah hear you chunkin’ money in mah do’way. You wait till Ah got mah strength back and Ah’m gointer fix you for dat.”

Related Characters: Missie May Banks (speaker), Joe Banks
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Joe Banks Character Timeline in The Gilded Six Bits

The timeline below shows where the character Joe Banks appears in The Gilded Six Bits. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Gilded Six-Bits
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
...the joyful mischief he was about to commit,” Missie May knows it is her husband, Joe, throwing silver dollars for her to pick up and pile beside her plate—a Saturday afternoon... (full context)
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
...checking the shrubbery, under the porch, and up and down the street. When she spots Joe, she chases him and catches him at the kitchen door, where they engage in a... (full context)
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
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As they recover from their play-fight, Missie May urges Joe to bathe and dress as well, teasing him, “Ah’m a real wife, not no dress... (full context)
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As they finish their supper, Joe reveals that he is taking Missie May to the town’s newly opened ice cream parlor,... (full context)
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While the couple cuddles affectionately, Joe describes Slemmons’ gold jewelry and gold teeth—a five-dollar gold piece for a stick-pin and a... (full context)
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On the way home from the parlor, the couple exchange impressions about Slemmons. Joe delights in the amusing “Chicago talk” Slemmons has taught them. (“Dat wife of yours,” Slemmons... (full context)
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
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The couple’s life settles into a happy routine. The best part of Joe’s life is returning home to Missie May at sunrise after his night shift, enjoying their... (full context)
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One night, Joe gets off work early and walks home in the moonlight. The sight of the moon... (full context)
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Joe slips into the house in hopes of surprising Missie May, but when he knocks something... (full context)
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...Slemmons pleads for his life, offering sixty-two dollars in gold money. As Slemmons considers escape, Joe just stands laughing, but before Slemmons can attack him, Joe knocks him down with a... (full context)
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Missie May continues to weep. Joe is overcome with emotion for a while, then has a good laugh and goes to... (full context)
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...“the sun’s tide crept upon the shore of night.” As dawn breaks, Missie May finds Joe’s presence and voice “strange” and despairs for her marriage, but when Joe asks for breakfast,... (full context)
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
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...old man that beams as brightly on death as on birth.” Missie May still loves Joe and cannot leave him. The Banks’ marriage remains outwardly intact, but it has changed. Joe... (full context)
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One night, some three months after Missie May’s infidelity with Slemmons, Joe comes home from work with back pain. Missie May rubs him with lineament, and at... (full context)
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...Slemmons had counted on villagers’ inability to discern the difference. Upon reflection, Missie May interprets Joe’s action as an insult—he is treating her like a prostitute and saying that he can... (full context)
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Returning the hated coin to Joe’s pocket, Missie May resolves to leave her husband. Shortly after leaving the house, however, she... (full context)
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Missie May sees the coin no more. Joe’s health is still poor, and every ten days or so, he comes home asking her... (full context)
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...six months later, Missie May goes into labor and gives birth to a healthy boy. Joe comes home from work and asks his mother, who is tending to the household, how... (full context)
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That Saturday, Joe goes to Orlando to shop for the household staples—something he has not done for a... (full context)
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Returning home, Joe tosses fifteen coins at his front door. Missie May, still recovering from childbirth, makes her... (full context)