The Gilded Six Bits

Otis D. Slemmons Character Analysis

Slemmons is a newcomer to Eatonville and the owner of an ice cream parlor. His origin is uncertain; Joe says that Slemmons is “of spots and places—Memphis, Chicago, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and so on.” He is primarily described through the eyes of other characters. He is said to be heavy-set with a mouth full of gold teeth, and he wears fine clothing—traits which set him apart from the other residents of Eatonville. Slemmons claims that women are attracted to him wherever he goes. He wears what appear to be a five-dollar gold piece for a stick-pin and a ten-dollar gold piece on his watch chain, which no one is allowed to touch. He walks with a “rolling swagger” and speaks in a Chicago dialect. Slemmons finds Missie May attractive and successfully pursues her with offers of gold. At the story’s climax, when Joe discovers their adultery, Slemmons pleads for his life and offers more money. Joe strikes him twice and seizes the golden watch charm. Slemmons is last seen fleeing the Banks’ house, though the Bankses discover that his watch charm was nothing but a gilded half dollar. He had been deceiving everyone all along.

Otis D. Slemmons Quotes in The Gilded Six Bits

The The Gilded Six Bits quotes below are all either spoken by Otis D. Slemmons or refer to Otis D. Slemmons. 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

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 long mobile

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“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

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

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
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Otis D. Slemmons Character Timeline in The Gilded Six Bits

The timeline below shows where the character Otis D. Slemmons 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
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
...cream parlor, and the two discuss its proprietor, a man from Chicago named Otis D. Slemmons. He tells Missie May that he wants her to be one of the first ladies... (full context)
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
While the couple cuddles affectionately, Joe describes Slemmons’ gold jewelry and gold teeth—a five-dollar gold piece for a stick-pin and a ten-dollar gold... (full context)
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
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,”... (full context)
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
...the floor, he hears a gasp and loud movements in the bedroom. There, he discovers Slemmons frantically getting dressed, and Joe is too stunned to act (“He was assaulted in his... (full context)
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
As Missie May sobs, Slemmons pleads for his life, offering sixty-two dollars in gold money. As Slemmons considers escape, Joe... (full context)
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
...Joe replying that she doesn’t know what his feelings are yet. Missie May says that Slemmons had kept after her with the promise of the gold piece. Finally Joe tells her... (full context)
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
...dollars, and the pockets full of gifts are gone. Missie May suspects that Joe carries Slemmons’ gold piece in his pocket, but she cannot bring herself to ask him or to... (full context)
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
...examines the supposed gold piece and discovers that it is only a gilded half dollar; Slemmons had counted on villagers’ inability to discern the difference. Upon reflection, Missie May interprets Joe’s... (full context)
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
...long absence by saying that he has “been round in spots and places.” He uses Slemmons’ fake gold piece to pay for a large amount of Missie May’s favorite candy kisses.... (full context)