In The essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” is a descriptive essay in which Zora Neale Hurston discovers her real identity. At the beginning of the essay, the setting takes place in Eatonville, Florida describing moments when Zora greets her neighbors by singing and dancing without anybody judging her. Back then, she was free from feeling different among other races. However, a tragedy happened when she was thirteen, her mom passed away and she left home to attend school in Jacksonville where she experiences discrimination due to her color of skin. She was introduced to a different lifestyle where the color of her skin was an unfortunate thing. However, she felt this change effected the way she viewed her appearance, as well as inside her. Here she also experienced isolation that comes from being different compared to other races. Hurst realizes that it’s more than just being “colored”, but how race can separate people. Back in history, Jacksonville’s habitants were a mixture of blacks and whites. In Jacksonville, Hurst was just another “colored girl.” However, this essay motivated me to analyze, evaluate and synthesize these works and explore the concepts and themes that run through each of the readings. Most importantly, find out what made this essay so important in American literature. According to the description in the essay, I have notice that the author Hurston uses literary devices like metaphor and tone that I found interesting and deserving for the reader to enjoy this journey.
“How It Feels To Be Colored Me”, a piece by Zora Neale Hurston, was written to allow readers to look through the eyes of a colored woman. Specifically, a colored woman living in early segregated America. Hurston described her experiences through emotion, credibility, reasoning, and appropriate timing. With these techniques, she clearly displayed pathos, ethos, logos, and kairos in her writing. Through these appeals, she successfully creates a strong case for her purpose in writing the essay. She intended to not only share her experiences, but to let readers perceive her emotions as well. Hence, the title stating how it “feels” to be her.
At time she states she feels that she simple doesn’t have a race and is merely herself. “I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored” (Hurston, vol. 2, pp. 360). At the end of the short story she uses a metaphor: “I feel like a brown bag of miscellany propped against a wall. Against a wall in company with other bags, white, red and yellow. Pour out the contents, and there is discovered a jumble of
Even though both Hurston and Hughes grew up around the same time period, they had very different ideals regarding their experience as African American’s as well as a different voice used within their works to convey their ideals. Hurston in her 1928 essay “How it Feels to be Colored Me” describes her childhood and coming of age with a delightful zest that cannot be contained. Although the essay does contain some dark moments such as when she describes her experience with her friend at the jazz club and the sudden realization of the racial difference between her and the other patrons, for the most part the work exudes her keen sense of dignity despite the popular opinion of the masses during that period. Lines in her essay such as “But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes…I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it” (Abcarian, Klotz, and Cohen 812) beautifully express her sense of self dignity and refusal to give in to the negative energies surrounding her race. Despite the many hardships that the color of her skin caused her she was proud and determined to never let that stand in her way of
Hurston, on the other hand, lived in a town where only blacks lived until she was thirteen years old. Therefore, she only knew the “black” self. There was no second identity to contend with. She states that “white people differed from colored to me only in that they rode through town and never lived there.”2 She does not feel anger when she is discriminated against. She only wonders how anyone can not want to be in her company. She “has no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored” (Hurston 1712).
In the all black community of Eatonville, Zora felt like members of her town saw her for who she was. There were no racial barriers in the community because of everyone’s shared culture, and history. Growing up in her small community, she came to love it and she felt a strong tie to her hometown. She illustrates this by saying, “But I was their Zora nevertheless. I belonged to them, to the nearby hotels, to the county—everybody’s Zora” (Hurston 42). Zora argues that because everyone was of the same color, the community could see past racial labels. A “black Zora” could not exist in Eatonville, and it was not an indicator of who she was because describing Zora as “black” in Eatonville does not do her identity justice. Zora could be Zora, because she felt no race, because she was so comfortable in her skin she could be a part of a community of people. In Eatonville, she did not see people because of racial labels, she had no knowledge of the stereotypes associated with black people. Because of her ignorance, Zora looked deep into people’s character as a young girl.
Hurston stays who she is, no matter what people might think of her. In her non-fiction text she especially manages to convey this by using Humor, that creates Ethos within the text. The first words of “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” include “I am the only Negro in the Unites States whose grandfather on the mother’s side was not an Indian chief”, in which Hurston makes fun of all the Afro-Americans at the time who were trying to claim Native American heritage. This start into the text creates a lighthearted atmosphere, in which the author acknowledges her less than perfect living circumstances, but showing that she will not crumple beneath them. Before being sent to a racially mixed boarding school in Jacksonville, Zora Hurston lived in a town in Florida. She always welcomed white tourists looking at their town and states that she was “the first welcome-to-our state Floridian”, hoping “the Miami Chamber of Commerce will please take notice”. Of course, at the time, it was impossible to involve the government in a personal wit, so the author uses the sarcastic information to show the reader that she would live her life no matter what the social norms might have been in the 1920s. In the second half of her text, Hurston includes the Irony “How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me”, showing that she knows that some people would view her as being socially unacceptable, however Hurston does not care, as long as she can stay true to her own character. Through the humorous tone created, the reader acknowledges that Hurston is light hearted and sympathizes with her
Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God further demonstrates the author’s perspective of colored women. The main
“I was not Zora of Orange County any more, I was now a little colored girl” (Hurston, 1928). She finally got a taste of discrimination. In Barbara Johnson’s journal entitled, “Thresholds of Difference: Structures of Address in Zora Neale Hurston,” she mentions that there is a loss of identity. “The ‘I’ is no longer Zora, and ‘Zora’ becomes a ‘she’” (Johnson, 1985). In a way, there is a theme of adaptability. This move did not break her spirit. This is known because she says that, “I am not tragically colored” (Hurston, 1928). Zora makes it known that she is not ashamed to be colored. Though white people would make it a point to mention how blacks are progressing in times, she refuses to stay tied to the memory of slavery or feel disgraced because she is
Purpose- Hurston’s purpose is to demonstrate that she is proud of her color. She does not need the bragging rights of having Native American ancestry, nor does she ‘belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it.’
Hurston prides herself on who she is because of her background. Her identity of being a black woman in a world
"How it Feels to be Colored Me" was written in 1928. Zora, growing up in an all-black town, began to take note of the differences between blacks and whites at about the age of thirteen. The only white people she was exposed to were those passing through her town of Eatonville, Florida, many times going to or coming from Orlando. The primary focus of "How it Feels to be Colored Me" is the relationship and differences between blacks and whites.
Hurston makes a prominent statement that she was not born colored; she became colored over the course of her life due to her experiences. She places emphasis on the distinction between her “colored” self and her “unlabeled” self by making it clear to that reader that race is learned, not innate. Hurston’s essay includes various situations that made her aware of her race due to the racist attitudes she experienced. Growing up she was “everybody’s Zora,” which implies that she viewed herself no different than her white counterpart (Hurston). “During this period, white people differed from colored to me only in that they rode through town and never lived there” (Hurston). However, this naïve viewpoint changes when Hurston informs the reader that “It seemed that I had suffered a sea change. I was not Zora of Orange County anymore, I was now a little-colored girl. I found it out in certain ways. In my heart as well as in the mirror, I became a fast
Hurston’s essay about being black in the early 20th century is an explanation of who she is. She does not believe her color defines her, but does see the contrasts of black and white cultures. Neither the color of our skin, or differences in our cultures warrant prejudice. Just because someone belittles or passes judgment on you does not mean you are what they say. People can rise above any unjust criticism that exists and be a better person for it.
At the beginning of the essay Hurston opens up with the statement that she is colored and that she offers no extenuating circumstances to the fact except that she is the only Negro in the U.S. whose grandfather was not an Indian chief. She presents a striking notion that she was not born colored, but that she later became colored during her life. Hurston then delves into her childhood in Eatonville, Florida an exclusively colored town where she did not realize her color then. Through anecdotes describing moments when she greeted neighbors, sang and danced in the streets, and viewed her surroundings from a comfortable spot on her porch, she just liked the white tourists going through the town. Back then, she was “everybody’s Zora” (p. 903), free from the alienating feeling of difference. However, when her mother passed away she had to leave home and