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The Narrative Structure And Emotional Perspective

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“How It Feels to Be Colored Me” is a narrative essay by Zora Neale Hurston that recounts her experience of having her identity being drastically shifted from her personal self to a nameless colored girl living in a predominantly white society. Hurston uses descriptive language, metaphors, and symbols to help the reader empathize with her experience rather than simply understand it at a factual level. The narrative structure and emotional-perspective style Hurston uses makes the events easy to follow. The following is an in-depth analysis of the literary elements Hurston uses in this piece.
The opening paragraph is straightforward and establishes that she sees herself as an ordinary colored person with no real distinguishing traits. It is written in the present tense, suggesting that this is the author’s current self image.
The next three paragraphs describe the culture of the town she grew up in as a child. It opens with an odd statement: “I remember the very day that I became colored.” This is meant to be taken figuratively, as in the day her race became a part of her identity, because people generally don’t spontaneously change color. She recounts that day later in the essay. In these three paragraphs she describes her life before she realizes what her race means for her. The relationship between white and colored people in the town is limited. Most of the all black town seem to be afraid of white people, but some of them, including the author, are just curious. This
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