September 12, 2002
Journal #2: All That Glitters….
Zora Neale Hurston’s “The Guilded Six-Bits” and Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” share a common theme and a similar symbolic means of demonstrating that theme. The theme of both stories is that appearance and reality are not always the same. This theme is presented in two ways in each story: it is reflected in the individual characters and at the end of each story, it is applied to the way the rest of the world perceives the characters.
In “The Guilded Six-Bits,” the guilded coins worn by Sleeman were actually just four- and six-bit pieces ***check names and pieces***, worth much less than the silver dollar coins which Joe showered upon Missie May. The coins signify both the false appearance of worth held by Sleeman and the greater actual worth of Joe in terms of what each man could provide for Missie May. [put in something about the silver dollars relfecting the moon and the gold reflecting the sun] Similarly, in “Good Country People,” Manly Pointer is not the good country boy he appears to be, and like Joe, Missie May, and the rest of their town, Mrs. Freeman, Mrs. Hopewell, and even Hulga, who professes to be able to see everything clearly, cannot see through his appearance into who he really is.
The theme of appearance verses reality is also applied at the end of both stories to Joe, Missie May, and “darkies” in genenral in “The Guilded Six-Bits,” and to Manly Pointer in “Good Country People.” At the end of both stories, each of those character’s conflict between appearance and reality had been eluciadated, but different characters remark on their apparent simplicity. After overcoming his conflict with Sleemen and the guilded six-bits, Joe buys candy kisses in a market in Orlando and the clerk remarks, “Whist I could be like these darkies. Laughin’ all the time. Nothin’ worries ‘em” (574). Similarly, after Manly Pointer has revealed exactly how much is appearance does not accurately reflect his real self, Mrs. Hopewell says, “He was so simple…but I guess the world would be better off if we were all that simple” (1091). They’ve missed the point.