Although both Spunk and Joe compete for Lena’s affection, Lena admires Spunk due to his physical appearance, wealth, and reputation among the townsmen.
Though these men clearly have different backgrounds, they both have one thing in common, which is their affection for Lena. Both men share a love for Lena that makes them do crazy things. Spunk shares a love so strong with Lena that he is bold enough to walk around town with her while having the knowledge that she is someone else's wife. Joe shares a love so strong with Lena that he still goes out to fight Spunk with a knife while having knowledge that Spunk carries a gun and not knowing the outcome of the fight. Neither one of them want anyone or anything else but Lena.
While they both love Lena, they are very different in personality and physical appearance. Spunk is strong and manly. We know this because of the textual evidence: “But that’s one thing Ah likes about Spunk Banks—he ain’t skeered of nothin‘ on God’s green footstool—nothin’! He rides that log down at saw-mill jus‘ like he struts ’round wid another man’s wife—jus‘ don’t give a kitty. When Tes’ Miller got cut to giblets on that circle-saw, Spunk steps right up and starts ridin'. The rest of us was skeered to go near it.” We know that Spunk is strong and manly because he works at a saw-mill. We also know this because of how he takes control in his relationship with Lena and lets her know his intentions with her. As compared to Joe, who is weak. Joe is weak because at the beginning of the story he sees his wife with Spunk and didn't have the guts to say anything to him. He just sat there and continued to look hurt. We also know this because of how Walter described him as timid in chapter one. “. . .What did Spunk say? Walter broke in— Ah like him fine but ‘tain’t right the way he carries on wid Lena Kanty, jus’ cause Joe’s timid ‘bout fightin’.” Spunk also has something else that Joe doesn't which is wealth....
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