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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

13. Southern Renaissance

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Activities: Author Activities

Zora Neale Hurston - Author Questions

Back Back to Zora Neale Hurston Activities
  1. Comprehension: How would you characterize the tone of the short folktales that comprise "The Eatonville Anthology"?

  2. Context: In 1933, the year Hurston wrote "The Gilded Six-Bits," the United States was being transformed by an increasingly mobile population. As automobiles became more affordable, the national highway system developed to allow people a greater freedom of movement than they'd ever experienced before. At the same time, chain department stores, national radio broadcasts, and a mature system of motion picture distribution meant that even remote, rural towns had begun to feel the effects of the new mass culture. In Hurston's story, Missie May and Joe seem to live a blissful and largely carefree existence, but their happiness is interrupted by the appearance of "Otis D. Slemmons, of spots and places." If Slemmons symbolizes many of the changes described above, what does Hurston seem to be saying about those changes?

  3. Context: In "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," Hurston writes: "Someone is always at my elbow reminding me that I am the granddaughter of slaves. It fails to register depression with me. Slavery is sixty years in the past. The operation was successful and the patient is doing well, thank you." How does this perspective compare with the experience of other African Americans living in the segregated, Jim Crow South? Compare Hurston's sentiments here to those expressed by Richard Wright in "The Man Who Was Almost a Man."

  4. Exploration: Both Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes were closely associated with the literary movement known as the Harlem Renaissance (see Unit 10). However, unlike Harlem Renaissance writers who produced writing that focused on the experience of the growing population of urban, middle-class African Americans, Hurston and Hughes chose to write about African American folk cultures and to employ more vernacular in their writing. Read Hughes's "Mother to Son" and "The Weary Blues." How does Hughes's poetry complement the picture of African American life Hurston creates in "The Gilded Six-Bits"?

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