Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 1 Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly .
Three Major Aspects of Folklore <ul><li>FOLKTALES </li></ul><ul><li>FOLK MUSIC </li></ul><ul><li>FOLK BELIEFS </li></ul>
Folktales Some of the best know African American folktales are those "told" by Uncle Remus. Uncle Remus is the fictional narrator of tales retold by Joel Chandler Harris. In those tales, Uncle Remus tells of various allegorized creatures, most notably he tells of the various antics of Brer Rabbit as he cunningly outwits Brer Fox time and time again. In his book Uncle Remus: his Songs and Sayings , Harris acknowledges that the tales he attempts to "preserve in their original simplicity"(Spalding, 1972, p.4), are created by slaves. In the Uncle Remus stories, Harris maintains the dialect of the slaves and accurately depicts the character of the slaves. In the stories, the characters are referred to as "Brer", a dialectical contraction of "Brother"(p.6), which is how many African Americans address each other.
Folklore I enjoyed your web page on Mr. Harris...and I have a dumb question, was Mr. Harris African-American? I cannot tell from the picture...and everything I have read doesn't mention his race. Reply: No question is dumb. Joel Chandler Harris was a white man, born of poor parents, who at thirteen left home and became an apprentice to Joseph Addison Turner, a newspaper publisher and plantation owner. It is at this plantation, Turnwold, that Harris first heard the black folktales that were to make him famous.
Folk Music A distinctly different and well know aspect of African American culture is its music. The various African influences on music have given African Americans a unique musical style. The well known 'call-and-response' pattern is very important in African music tradition, and exists today in the form of "devotional hymns" in many black Southern Baptist churches. The use of drums and hand clapping is also very important in maintaining the rhythm of the songs.
Folk Beliefs To some, superstitions determine how and when they carry out various activities in their daily lives. Many superstitions are believed to have grown "out of African fetishism, which was brought over from the dark continent along with the dark people. Certain features, too, suggest a distant affinity with Voodooism…" (Dundes, 1973, p 371 Mother Wit).
Folk Beliefs "Voodooism is a system of beliefs about health and illness that facilitates coping with the disorders of the body and mind, as well as evil spirits"(Watson, 1984, p 3). It was organized as a religion around 1803, but is largely misunderstood. Voodoo is practiced widely in Haiti and in Louisiana. In practice, voodooism is not "evil" at all. It circulates around the belief that illness and other problems have spiritual rather than physical causes .
Some Common Superstitions <ul><li>If the tongue is sore, you have told a lie </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t let a black cat cross you path. </li></ul><ul><li>It is bad luck for two people to comb on the same person’s head (at the same time). </li></ul><ul><li>If the palm of your right hand itches you will get money. </li></ul><ul><li>A pregnant lady should never go into the garden (it will kill the plants). </li></ul><ul><li>If birds weave some of your hair into their nests you will go crazy. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t wash the inside of a baby’s hand; you will wash away its luck. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t sweep a person’s feet. </li></ul><ul><li>When someone asks for salt (or pepper) you must always pass both. </li></ul><ul><li>If you use the same pencil to take a test that you used you study for the test; the pencil will remember the answers. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s bad luck to walk under a ladder. </li></ul><ul><li>Never open an umbrella in the house. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t step on a crack in the sidewalk. </li></ul><ul><li>If you blow out the candles on you birthday cake in one try your wish will come true. </li></ul><ul><li>It is good luck to find a four-leaf clover. </li></ul><ul><li>If you break a mirror you will have seven years of bad luck. </li></ul><ul><li>A rabbit’s foot will bring you good luck. </li></ul><ul><li>If you tell someone your wish it won’t come true. </li></ul><ul><li>If you spill salt, you must throw a pinch over your shoulder to prevent bad luck. </li></ul><ul><li>If a person sneezes, say "God bless you" so the devil won’t enter their bodies. </li></ul>
MODERNISM William Carlos Williams so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) In this account, the modernism of the Negro is a function of his racial identity, or rather, of his ability to establish the right relation to his racial identity. Like Coolidge's Americans desiring to be "supremely American," the "New Negro's" aspiration to modernity generates a project out of a tautology. If, in other words, the New Negro was new insofar as he managed to be himself, the "Old Negro" was old because he hadn't quite managed to be himself. The project, then, of being oneself is given content by the Negro's historical pro-pensity to imitation, a propensity that has, as Zora Neale Hurston puts it, given rise to the charge (repeated so often that it has "almost become a gospel") that "the Negro is lacking in originality." .
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) (The status of this mimicry as autotelic imitation is what makes it "art.") The middle class Negro, however, "wears drab clothing, sits through a boresome church service..., holds beauty contests, and otherwise apes all the mediocrities of the white brother" ("CNE," 59). Hurston's idea is not that as Negroes rise in class they become less Negro; on the contrary, it is only the imitation of whites that identifies the middle class as a class. The racial betrayal is understood here to produce rather than to reflect adherence to the middle class, a point that is hammered home by the claim that the "truly cultured Negro" "glories," like the "average Negro," in his "ways": you don't need to be "average" to be authentically Negro but you do need to be inauthentically Negro (imitation white) to be "middle class."