Zora Neale Hurston’s writing embodies the modernism themes of alienation and the reaffirmation of racial and social identity. She has a subjective style of writing in which comes from the inside of the character’s mind and heart, rather than from an external point of view. Hurston addresses the themes of race relations, discrimination, and racial and social identity. At a time when it is not considered beneficial to be “colored,” Hurston steps out of the norm and embraces her racial identity.
In “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” Hurston breaks from the tradition of her time by rejecting the idea that the African American people should be ashamed or saddened by the color of their skin. She tells other African Americans that they should embrace their color and be proud of who they are. She writes, “[A socialite]…has nothing on me. The cosmic Zora emerges,” and “I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads” (942-943). Whether she feels “colored” or not, she knows she is beautiful and of value. But Hurston writes about a time when she did not always know that she was considered colored.
Hurston writes about how she moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and it wasn’t until then that she realized she wasn’t just Zora—she was also colored. She says, “I was not Zora of Orange County any more, I was now a little colored girl” (941). It was after she was thrown against the backdrop of a white community that others made her feel colored. But even though she was made aware of her differences she did not feel any anger about slavery or the discrimination she was faced with. She states, “…I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, n...
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...izes that there are still great differences between them and she sees them in a positive way. She feels while he only hears. Hurston handles the topic of race relations with no shame for herself or the African American community. She is proud of the differences. She feels life more fully.
In conclusion, Hurston was a modernist writer who dealt with societal themes of racism, and social and racial identity. She steps away from the folk-oriented style of writing other African American authors, such as Langston Hughes, and she addresses modern topics and issues that relate to her people. She embraces pride in her color and who she is. She does not hate the label of “colored” that has been placed upon her. She embraces who she is and by example, she teaches others to love themselves and the color of their skin. She is very modern. She is everybody’s Zora.
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