Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Characterization: Joe Starks

In chapters one through five, a lot of characters have been introduced. One in particular that sticks out to me is Joe Starks. Joe Starks, even though he is colored, he is a man of power. He knows how to manipulate people and therefore he gains power. People in Eatonville recognize this power that he has. On page 47, the men discuss that “there was something about Joe Starks that cowed the town. It was not because of physical fear. He was no fist fighter. His bulk was not even imposing as men go. Neither was it because he was more literate than the rest. Something else made men give way before him. He had a bow-down command in his face, and every step he took made the thing more tangible.” I believe that the town’s people are intimidated and maybe jealous of Joe because he has gained so much authority. In the end, Joe Starks is a salutary addition to the town because he has great leadership skills.

Other than Joe being in control, he is also very determined. He was determined to get Janie to run off with him. Janie ended up running away from her first husband and marrying Joe. He was determined to be a man of great influence in this new town he was going to. He ameliorated the town and built it up and is now mayor. Joe Starks is a very determined man, and when he wants something he usually gets it. When Joe wanted more land for Eatonville, he went over and got more land from Cap’n Eaton. His willpower has built up Eatonville and his reputation.

The way Joe Starks acts and says things also shows the type of person he is. For an example on page 29, when Joe says “you behind a plow! You ain’t got no mo’ business wid uh plow than uh hog is got wid uh holiday” shows that Joe is a gentleman. He thinks that a woman should not have to do all the work around the land. Another example of Joe being a gentleman is when Janie sneaks off with him and he helps her up into the carriage. Now I do think Joe means good, but he can sometimes be demeaning, such as the time he did not even give Janie the chance to make a speech when she was asked to. He is also very committed to this dream of his and he avoids the fact that it can be a strain on him and Janie. Overall though, I think Joe Sparks presents himself with great aplomb and has good intentions so far in the story.

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