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  • 1. Zora Neale Hurston By: Rachel Porter and Cambrie Maxwell
  • 2. Author’s Life
    • Born in 1891 in Notasugla, No one knows exact date
      • Fifth of eight children
    • Her father, John Hurston, was a Baptist preacher, tenant farmer Alabama
      • and carpenter
      • Not a family man
      • Made life difficult for his family and children
      • Preferred Zora’s sister Sarah over Zora
    • Her mother, Lucy Hurston was the “driving force and strong support for all her children”
      • Passed away when Zora was only a preteen
  • 3. Author’s Life Con’t…
    • When she was three her family moved to Eatonville, Florida, an all black town
      • The first incorporated black community in America
      • For this reason her childhood was protected from racism
      • Her father later became mayor of this town
    • To Zora, Eatonville would become a utopia, glorified in her stories as a place black Americans could live as they desire, independent of white society and all its ways.
    • After the death of her mother she "passed around the family like a bad penny" by her father for the next several years until she was old enough to support herself.
  • 4. Author’s Life Con’t…
    • Upon reaching adulthood Zora was working as a domestic, still leading an traveling life, with little schooling.
    • She was in Baltimore in 1917, when through the aid of her employer she entered in Morgan Academy (the high school division of Morgan College)
      • She was actually twenty-six at the time but wrote her age as sixteen and her birth date as 1901
    • She graduated in 1918
    • When saved up enough money she went to college at Howard University in Washington DC
      • Was inspired to write while here
  • 5. Author’s Life Con’t…
    • Later moved to Harlem and perused at writing career
    • She became a recognized member of the Harlem Renaissance
      • The Harlem Renaissance was a period during which black artists broke with the traditional dialectal works and imitating white writers to explore black culture and express pride in their race.
      • Zora and her stories about Eatonville became a major force in shaping these ideals.
  • 6. Author’s Life Con’t…
    • Her biographer Robert Hemenway said “Zora Hurston was an extraordinarily witty woman and she acquired an instant reputation in New York for her high spirits and side-splitting takes of Eatonville life. She could walk into a room of strangers…and almost immediately gather people charm, amuse and empress them.”
    • During this time she worked as secretary for Fannie Hurst and entered Bernard College
    • Her career took her into two directions- at Bernard she developed an interest in black Folk tradition by studying with the famous anthropologist Franz Boas, and in Harlem she became well known as a story teller
    • Graduated in 1927 from Bernard
  • 7. Author’s Life Con’t…
    • After her graduation, she received a fellowship to return to Florida to study the oral traditions of Eatonville.
    • When the fellowship money ran out, Zora was supported by Mrs. R. Osgood Mason an elderly white patron of the arts.
      • Under Mrs. Mason’s support, Zora experienced the difficulty of censoring her work because well off white people were the sponsors of, and often the chief audience for, her work.
    • Mrs. Mason required permission before publishing any of the work that she had subsidized
  • 8. Author’s Life Con’t…
    • Her work wasn’t entirely popular with the male intellectuals of the Harlem community because many thought her to be either naive or egotistical
    • She quarreled with Langston Hughes because she rejected the idea that a black writer’s chief concern should be how blacks are portrayed to the white reader.
    • Great Depression caused her to turn fully to writing
    • For the last decade of her life she lived in Florida working from time to time as a maid
    • She died in 1960
  • 9. Popular Literary Works
    • Her most important and first novel, Jonah’s Gourd Vine was published mid 1930’s, but there was little interest in it or African American writing in general
    • Mules and Men was her best selling book published in 1935
    • Most popular and critical favorite was her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God published in 1937
    • She published a few other works and then her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, in 1942, but at this point she had no audience
    • Hurston's present reputation and popularity are evidenced by the reprinting of several of her works in the late 1980s, including Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • 10. Literature From Our Texts
    • The Eatonville Anthology: Here she brings together many of the stories about Eatonville’s residents that she told at parties in Harlem. The stories are cast in the forms of traditional African American tales. It is comprised of fourteen short sketches which offer humorous commentary on lives of the characters of Eatonville.
    • How It Feels to Be Colored Me: Here Hurston shows us how proud she is about being a woman of color in a world full of discrimination against black people. In this story she explains how she was not always colored and how she became colored. She also explains that she only feels colored when she is with white people. She is not bitter about slavery because she feels that being bitter about it will only hold her back.
    • The Gilded Six-Bits: is a story of love, betrayal, and forgiveness. It portrays the happy domestic life of two young newly weds, Joe and Missie May and shows the havoc that is wreaked when a slick and sophisticated outsider comes into their community and into their home.
  • 11. Writing Style
    • Zora wrote in a narrative recreation of southern black rural dialect
    • Her fiction, which depicts relationships among black residents in her native southern Florida, was largely unconcerned with racial injustices.
    • Zora did not write to “uplift her race” because in her view it was already uplifted
    • She was not embarrassed to present her characters as a mixture of good and bad, strong and weak.
    • Critics have argued that she was a feminist writer because she didn’t need a man to lean on
    • Hurston's novel has become a staple in women's studies programs and has inspired many female authors to create non-stereotypical black female characters.