The Gilded Six Bits


Zora Neale Hurston

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Themes and Colors
Domesticity and Routine Theme Icon
Appearances, Reality, and Trust Theme Icon
Money, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Sexuality and Marriage Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Gilded Six Bits, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Domesticity and Routine

“The Gilded Six-Bits” is fundamentally a story about home—specifically, the ways in which domesticity can create and sustain love. Hurston’s narrative centers on the interactions between newlyweds Joe and Missie May, whose partnership is initially characterized and bolstered by various loving routines. When an outsider disrupts these routines, however, the couple’s relationship is tested. By exploring how Joe and Missie May navigate and ultimately overcome such disruption, Hurston suggests that domestic customs create a…

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Appearances, Reality, and Trust

Hurston contrasts deception with authenticity throughout “The Gilded Six-Bits.” The title itself—which refers to coins of low value covered with a thin layer of gold leaf—invokes the notion of fakery and portends the betrayal that will test Joe and Missie May’s marriage. Yet even as Hurston’s story highlights the many ways in which appearances frequently contrast with reality, it ultimately suggests that genuine trust can withstand even the basest deception.

Deception frames the story…

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Money, Class, and Power

Hurston initially introduces her characters as happy despite limited resources. When Slemmons appears, however, Joe and Missie May begin to imagine possessing traits, status, and means they do not have. Subsequent discontent leads Missie May to be unfaithful to Joe, threatening their relationship and disrupting its simple pleasures. Hurston argues that while having enough money for basic comforts is important, the desire for excess wealth or status is a corrosive force ultimately at odds with…

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Sexuality and Marriage

Sexuality within Joe and Missie May’s relationship is a lively, creative force, reflected in the beauty of their home, the playfulness of their interactions, and in Joe’s desire for parenthood. At the same time, Hurston portrays sexuality as corrupting when expressed outside of appropriate channels—namely, marriage. Marriage, Hurston suggests, provides an environment within which sexuality is healthy rather than a source of temptation. Above all, Hurston argues that sexuality is at once a creative…

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