‘‘The Gilded Six-Bits’’ is a story of love, betrayal, and forgiveness. It playfully portrays the happy domestic life of two young newlyweds and shows the havoc that is wreaked when a slick and sophisticated outsider comes into their community and into their home. The story is typical of Hurston's fiction in that it offers a positive and affectionate vision of African-American life, that it is set in her native town of Eatonville, and that it reflects the rich oral traditions of that community. ‘‘The Gilded Six-Bits,’’ rich in metaphor and melodious dialect, is a meditation on the meaning of value and a celebration of emotional resilience and integrity.
The Gilded Six-Bits" is a story about a young couple who live in a small Negro settlement in Florida. This story begins with the close intimacy between its two main characters, Joe and Missie May. Joe and Missie May clearly love each other, as is shown by their interaction as Missie May sets the dinner table, while Joe "chunks" money at their doorway, a sign both of his arrival home and his show of affection. The story's tension is revealed when a newcomer arrives in town. Otis D. Slemmons is the antithesis of Joe and Missie May's sweet, country naiveté. Slemmons, who is rich, owns the recently opened ice cream parlor in town. He seduces Missie May with his riches and worldliness. The two begin an affair. Joe catches them both in bed. Missie May later becomes pregnant with Slemmons' child. The story's emphasis on infidelity and greed set the story in motion, thus revealing an underside to small-town life that mirrors the sketches Hurston writes about in the Anthology.
Yet despite this, Hurston clearly favors Eatonville or small towns like it in this story. Slemmons' character is not unlike the snake who invades the Garden of Eden, tempting Missie May from the innocence of her marriage with Joe and Joe from his own humble simplistic values.
Slemmons is the stereotypical portrait of the idle rich. Both Ford and...