Contrasting Native Son and Their Eyes Were Watching God Essay

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This paper examines the drastic differences in literary themes and styles of Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston, two African--American writers from the early 1900's. The portrayals of African-American women by each author are contrasted based on specific examples from their two most prominent novels, Native Son by Wright, and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston. With the intent to explain this divergence, the autobiographies of both authors (Black Boy and Dust Tracks on a Road) are also analyzed. Particular examples from the lives of each author are cited to demonstrate the contrasting lifestyles and experiences that created these disparities, drawing parallels between the authors’ lives and creative endeavors. It becomes…show more content…
One such author, whose portrayal of the African-American woman as a heroine, thus stirring Wright's bitterest and deepest aversion and condemnation, is African-American female, Zora Neale Hurston. Like Wright, Hurston, also his contemporary, was a prolific artist, yet in a strikingly different style, and with drastically different thematic messages, she strayed from the tradition of bitterness and rage embraced by Wright.

The study of African-American protest literature is useful in comprehending the depth of the racial plight in America. Richard Wright (1908-1960) and Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), two African-American authors sharing the same literary era, then, might be expected to produce similar works, if not in plot, then perhaps, and probably more likely, in theme.

Typical African-American literature of this time period, especially that of Black males, carries strong messages of the injustice of racism, oppression and inequality in all facets of society. Zora Neale Hurston, however, chose an inherently different path. In the words of Missy Dehn Kubitschek, "Their Eyes Were Watching God provides an emblem of Hurston's withdrawal from political concerns in favor of personal relationships" (19).

This course of action has warranted the intense criticism of Black males, among the harshest of whom was Richard Wright. In a review of Their Eyes Were Watching God, Wright
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