Everything is not always what it appears to be. This theme is most closely related to the short stories “The Gilded Six Bits” by Zora Neale Hurston and The Passing of Grandison” by Charles Waddell Chesnutt. The Passing of Grandison is about a slaveholder’s son who plots to free one of his father’s slaves. The slave outwits the slaveholder’s son by not escaping with the opportunities of solitary he was given, but he rather reaches out for help and concocts a plan to help him free not only just himself but his entire family.
Distinctive in context but identical in theme, “The Gilded Six Bits” is about a man who has a great relationship with his wife and one day discovers her in bed with a man who wore a lot of gold jewelry. When he asks her why she did it she tells him that she was promised a solid gold coin in return for her services. As it turns out the coin that the man gave his wife was gold plated and worth a little more that fifty cents. In both the stories the readers get to witness the faades displayed by the deceitful characters.Order now
The stories are very similar in theme yet are distinct in many ways. The authors of the stories “The Passing of Grandison” and “The Gilded Six Bits” both use characterization, point of view and plot to effectively prove theme. In both stories “The Passing of Grandison” and “The Gilded Six Bits” the authors use allegory to develop theme. For example, in “The Gilded Six Bits” Missie May’s character represents deceitfulness, parallel to that of Grandison in “The Passing of Grandison”.
This parallel relationship is in contrast to their character oppositions who represent two separate character traits. In “The Passing of Grandison” Grandison deceives his slave master Dick Owens. While in the north Dick makes references the Grandison should mingle with the free blacks and Grandison joins in saying, “Dey ‘lows dey ‘re free, but dey ain’ got sense ’nuff ter know dey ain’ half as well off as dey would be down Souf, whar dey ‘d be ‘preciated”(Chesnutt 618).
Grandison did not actually possess the feelings that he portrayed throughout this dialogue which proved him to be a deceitful character. In the Gilded six bits Missy May had an affair with a man whom throughout the story she stated did not interest her. When having a conversation with her husband about the man she states, “He’ll do in case of a rush” (Hurston 1036). Missy May was being less that truthful with her husband during this conversation because her actions later proved otherwise. In “The Passing of Grandison” Dick Owens was deceived and in “The Gilded Six Bits” Joe was deceived.
On the contrary to “The Gilded Six Bit’s” protagonist Joe who is completely innocent, Dick Owens is a slaveholder who is betraying his father by attempting to release one of his slaves. This contrast places the reader’s support on different characters types. In “The Passing of Grandison” the deceitful character is indeed the protagonist but in “The Gilded Six Bits” the reader is more likely to support the non-deceitful protagonist Joe. Chesnutt gave the readers a unique view into what a protagonist is and proved that lies and deception can be done of the greater good.
Both authors use third person point of view to develop the theme. If the reader had knowledge of the thoughts of Grandison the revelation of the theme would have been premature, ultimately ruining the climax of the story. If the reader had known what Missie May was doing behind her husband’s back the climax would have been less of an epiphany for it would have been anticipated. When Missie May says “Us might find some goin’ long de road some time. Us could” (Hurston 1036). It is a subtle foreshadowing technique that goes unnoticed without previous knowledge of the climax.
If the reader had insight into what Missie May was thinking, It would have revealed Missie May’s true character type making the epiphany premature. In “The Passing of Grandison”, while wandering free in the north Grandison is confronted by abolishonish and when asked about his encounter her says, “dese yer abolitioners is jes’ pesterin’ de life out er me tryin’ ter git me ter run away. I don’ pay no ‘tention ter ’em” (Chesnutt 619). If the readers had insight into what actually occurred during Grandson’s interaction with the abolitionists, the readers would have known his true intentions.
Point of view spared the readers insight into vital parts of the story that occurred ex parte. By keeping the readers blind, the authors allow us to be stunned later in the story. In both stories the authors use plot to establish a solid theme. For example, In “The Passing of Grandison” The climax is when Grandison escapes and it reveals his true character. This is a major turning point in the story when the theme fully unfolds. Near the end of the story the author reveals, “One Monday morning Grandison was missing.
And not only Grandison, but his wife, Betty the maid; his mother, aunt Eunice; his father, uncle Ike; his brothers, Tom and John, and his little sister Elsie, were likewise absent from the plantation” (Chesnutt 623). This point in the story is the shock factor, which delivers an epiphany to the non-expecting readers. In “The Gilded Six Bits” the similar effect was provided when Joe discovered Missy May in Bed with Slemmons. This incident comes as a full surprise to the readers due to the conflicting dialogue provided by Missy May throughout the story.
Prior to the discovery in the story in reference to Slemmons Missy May states, “Ah don’t see whut de womens see on ‘im. Ah wouldn’t give ‘im a wink if de sheriff wuz after ‘im” (Hurston 1036). Missy is stating to her husband that she is not attracted to Slemmons and refuses to give him the time of day; but her actions later proved that she was being untruthful when she had this dialogue with her husband. These turning points shaped the entire theme, exposing the characters for who they really are. The theme in the stories appears to be clear and concise but the elements that shape them are the driving force for the entire ordeal.
The deceitful characters fooled the readers with their innocent faades and conflicting dialogue leaving the readers unsuspecting of their true character. The theme of the stories seem to hit home with a lot of readers who have been in similar circumstances which allows readers to relate to the characters. Hurston and Chesnutt composed two separate stories with distinguishing conflicts but united them with a theme that shocked many readers. The shock factor in the plots, the similar character types, and the point of view illustrated all contributed to the execution of the story’s theme.