Symbols in“the Gilded Six Bits” Zora Neale Hurston

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Coins, quilts and a creek, what could these three things possibly have in common? They are all symbols of love, freedom, family and legacy. In “The Gilded Six Bits” by Zora Neale Hurston the coins represent Joe and Missie Mae’s relationship. In “Women Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros the creek represents a bridge to the past and the future for Cleofilas. In “Use” by Alice Walker the quilts represent family legacy and what happens when families disagree about that legacy. In “The Six Gilded Bits” we meet Joe and Misse Mae, newlyweds. They are young, in love and exceptionally happy with their life. They have lived a modest life in a small house “but there was something happy about it”. (Hurston 1) We meet Misse Mae first as she is preparing the house and herself for Joe to come home from work. “Who dat chunkin money in mah do’way?” (Hurston 1) Joe and Misse Mae have a ritual. Every week Joe comes home with his paycheck and he throws it in the doorway so that Missie can pile it up on the table while they have their dinner. It is a game for them, to save money for the children they hope to have soon. . At first the coins are fun and loving. ¬¬

It isn’t long before coins take on a very different meaning. There is a new man in town Otis D. Slemmons. He owns the ice cream parlor and he tells great stories of his wealth. Joe is quite taken by him and wants to bring Missie Mae to the ice cream parlor to show her off. Joe tells her to “Go’head on now, honey, and put on yo’ clothes. He talkin’ ‘bout his pritty omens – Ah want ‘im to see mine.” Joe knows he can’t compare to Mr. Otis Slemmons but as far as Joe is concerned no-body can compete with his Missy Mae.

Joe is very impressed with Slemmons; he goes on and on about how important he is. He also wishes he could be more like Slemmons, a rich man, and important man. Repeating the stories Slemmons has told him about the life he lives. Missie Mae is a bit less enchanted. She doesn’t see the attraction and the pull of the money at first. She also doesn’t believe Slemmons. “Dat don’t make it so. His mouf is cut corssways, ain’t it? Well, he kin lik jes’ lak anybody else.” (Hurston 4) She thinks he could be lying, of course Joe believes him. “He’s got a five-dollar gold piece for a stickpin and he got a ten-dollar gold piece on his watch chain and his mouf is jes’ crammed full of gold teeths.” (Hurston 4)

Shortly after they visit the ice cream parlor Joe comes home from work early. He finds Missie Mae and Slemmons in bed. At first Joe is not quite sure what is going on or what to do. “The great belt of Time slipped and eternity stood still.” He stands there and laughs, for a short while then he hits him “Joes’ own rushed out to crush him like a battering ram.” (Hurston 6) Joe realizes after Slemmons has left; that he has his golden watch charm in his fist.

Coins now mean something very different for Missie Mae and Joe. They are no longer a symbol of their love and hope for the future. Now they are a symbol of betrayal and what is lost for a while but with time can be regained.

In Sandra Cisneros’s “Woman Hollering Creek” we meet a sad young girl named Cleofilas Enriqueta DeLeon Hernandez. She hopes her life will be modeled after the telenovelas she watches faithfully. "She has been waiting for, has been whispering and sighing and giggling for, has been anticipating since she was old enough o lean against the window displays of gauze and butterflies and lace, is passion." (Cisneros 1)

She is marries Juan Pedro. She dreams of their new house in Seguin. “Well not exactly new, but they’re going to repaint the house. (Cisneros 2) That’s what newlyweds do isn’t it? Cleofilas is young and believes her whole life is finally going to begin in Seguin; it sadly does not turn into the life she longed for.

There is a creek in the back of the house that Cleofilas finds comfort in. “La Gritona. Such a funny name for such a lovely arroyo.” (Cisneros 2) She is also quite curious about...
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