Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Remember Joe Starks?
"Didn't buy 'im fuh no work. I god, Ah bought dat varmint tuh let 'im rest. You didn't have gumption enough tuh do it." - Joe Starks
We read through all the chapters about Joe Starks, but no one ever stopped and posted about the internal conflicts he faces each day. So I guess I will.
Joe took on a project that requires so much responsibility, that it would make some weak in the knees. However, Joe is eager to get Eatonville into ship-shape and to show the world what the town is made of. He takes on many endeavors, such as building the general store and putting up the lamp post. He does his best to make the town a better place and to give its people more of what they had been missing. But Joe Starks still gets slack from the people around him.
Despite everything he had already shown them, Joe still needed to prove his integrity to the townspeople. Every day, he fights an internal battle with his ego, and an external one in attempt to gain the approval of the people he governs. In his heart, he knows he is better than the rest; he came from other parts, he knows what it is like to have money, he understands the importance of hard work in order to get the finer things in life. He knows he is smart, talented, and resourceful. But he also is wise enough to know that if he shows off too much, he will lose the support he works so hard to gain from the people of Eatonville. He constantly struggles to find the happy medium between satisfying himself, as well as his people. Too much or too little on either end always causes one or the other displeasure.
Joe Starks's external battle is to achieve true approval from the townspeople; he sets a goal to make sure they are happy with him. To pursue his goal, he decides to buy Matt's mule from him for $5, something Matt cannot refuse. Matt reminds Joe that the mule is old and useless after the transaction has occurred; Joe bought him for that very purpose though. He wants the townspeople to see that he does have a heart and realizes when enough is enough. As a result of this action, Joe earns the respect of society, who can now truly see his kind heart and compassionate soul. While this may be a short term victory for Joe, the battle never truly ends, as society does come to distrust him and be skeptic of him again later in the novel.