Identity in James Baldwin’s Stranger in the Village and Zora Neale Hurston’s How it Feels to be Colored Me

Identity in James Baldwin’s Stranger in the Village and Zora Neale Hurston’s How it Feels to be Colored Me

Length: 1733 words (5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Identity in James Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village” and Zora Neale Hurston’s “How it Feels to be Colored Me”



Everyone has a story, a past experience that has built them up to be the person
that they are today. In both James Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village” and Zora Neale
Hurston’s “How it Feels to be Colored Me” the presence of conflicting views in their
stories holds a large impact on how they later develop as individuals. While Baldwin’s piece demonstrates the ignorance from society which is projected onto him from Swiss villagers, it shares both similarities and differences to the attitudes demonstrated in Hurston’s piece influenced by her surroundings. Being that it is difficult to escape the past and the events that have brought strength through triumph, it is important to focus one’s attention on the present and into the future. Although the past determines who an individual is, the future determines who an individual will become.

James Baldwin holds the ability to push through negative affiliations in order to
reach self establishment. As demonstrated in “Stranger in the Village,” Baldwin is simply just a black man who “was motivated by the need to establish an identity” (196). Through his desire of recognition as a human being rather than as an object, Baldwin is willing to look past the ignorance of the Swiss villagers and focus on defining himself. Greeted by the children’s calls of “Neger! Neger!,” Baldwin unintentionally finds himself reminiscing (191). Although the children’s label is not meant in a derogatory fashion, it causes Baldwin to surrender to the racial indifference of his past. Baldwin attempts to disregard his unpleasant reflection and justify the fact that change has been made. ...


... middle of paper ...


...experiences and refocus his or
her energy toward the future, however, through the works of both James Baldwin and
Zora Neale Hurston, it is shown to be possible. Through their experiences they worked to
develop their identities, and through the present they looked toward the future in order
to reach establishment. It is true that everyone has a story; however, it is up to each
individual to take that story and make it his or her own by creating an identity for him or
herself.



Works Cited

Baldwin, James. “Stranger in the Village.” The Norton Reader. Ed. Linda H. Peterson
and John C. Brereton. 11th ed. New York: Norton, 2004. 360-68.

Hurston, Zora N. ""How It Feels to Be Colored Me." Grammar and Composition -
Homepage of About Grammar and Composition. Web. 08 Dec. 2009.
.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »