OF THE BABY NAME JOE
Joe is a novel written by Larry Brown. Nearing fifty, Joe Ransom won't slow down, not in his pickup, not with a gun, and certainly not with women. But all the fast living in Mississippi won't fill the hunger Joe can't name. At fifteen, Gary Jones is already slipping through the cracks. Part of a hopeless, homeless wandering family, he's desperate for a way out. He finds it in Joe. Together they follow a twisting map to redemption…or ruin. An understated, powerful, beautiful evocation of a place, a time, and a people.
Joe Gargery is Pip’s brother-in-law in Charles Dickens’ 1860/61 classic, Great Expectations, and there is scarcely as fine and kind a character in all of English literature. Joe’s background is even more lowly than Pip’s; as a young boy he had to eschew schooling in order to support his family. He is an uneducated blacksmith, but his heart and his instincts are as true as gold. He provides a bulwark for young Pip throughout many of the boy’s harrowing experiences, and is even more family to him than Pip’s own sister, Joe’s wife. He instills in Pip a sense of his own worth, and the notion that all men are, after all, created equal. Circumstances may be different, but the basics are the same, and one must strive mightily to be one’s own man. Naturally, as Pip’s life goes along its own extraordinary path, he tends to forget Joe and his valuable life lessons temporarily. Naturally, all is resolved in the end, and Joe’s strong and gentle nature is fully appreciated by a most grateful Pip.
Joe Harper is Tom Sawyer’s “bosom friend” in Mark Twain’s 1876 classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Joe is a typical young boy of the rural South of the 1840s. He and Tom share a united goal: to have adventures, and they are mighty successful at it. Feeling underappreciated and chore-ridden, the boys run away (with Huck Finn) to become pirates on a nearby island. Their illegal fun consists of swimming, rafting, fishing, and exploring. With their grief-stricken families preparing for their funerals, Joe and the boys return home to great rejoicing. Joe Harper’s family background appears to be a little more conventional than Tom’s (and certainly than Huck’s!), and Joe eventually fades into the background of the tale, as Huck takes a more active role. Twain acknowledged that Joe Harper was based upon a schoolroom friend of his, John Briggs, and he is affectionately given the moniker “Terror of the Seas” by a fond Twain.
Joe Starks is a main character in Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Joe is a stylish, charismatic, single-minded and ambitious young black man who wants to make a mark on his world. This he does, initially, by becoming mayor of his town, as well as postmaster, property owner and store keeper. He marries Janie not so much out of love, but rather because he believes she complements his world view of himself and his place in that world. This self-absorbed willfulness of his only serves to work against him, as Janie struggles and rebels under his dominance. In a public berating, Janie accuses him of cruelty and impotence, leading to Joe brutally beating her. With his authority thus undermined, and having acted so basely, Joe loses the will to live. True to himself to the end, however, Joe dies cursing Janie – he is nothing if not consistent. In our opinion, Hurston has saddled poor Joe with the intolerable task of representing the kind of injustice doled out by one race against another. Anyway, Janie has the last word; she wins.