The Genius of the South

The Genius of the South

Zora Neale Hurston was a great Harlem Renaissance writer, whose work was not readily accepted in its time. Her work was not recognized and she died penniless and unknown in Florida. Even though Zora’s talents of writing were not acknowledged, her work made a difference in the African American Literature society. She wrote many different stories including the award winning Their Eyes Were Watching God and Dust Tracks on a Road. Zora addressed issues of race and gender, often relating them to the search for freedom. Zora’s most acclaimed novel Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of a strong, passionate, and independent woman named Janie May Crawford (Andrews 402). She comes back to her hometown and tells her life story to her friend, Phoeby. Janie was raised on a plantation by her grandmother. Janie searches for freedom throughout the story by trying to be her own woman and refuses to be tied down by the stereotype that black women carry heavy loads on their backs. Even though Janie felt this way, her grandmother told her the way she has seen it all her life: “Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de 2 world so fur as Ah can see. Ah been prayin’ fuh it tuh be different wid you. Lawd, Lawd, Lawd (14)!” Hurston describes Eatonville not in a negative way, but more as a place that is not beneficial to an independent woman like Janie. When Janie is married to the mayor, she is sentenced to spend her days as a worker in the town store…


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