Southern Idiom of Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston, scholar, novelists, folklorist, and anthropologist, was a major figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Her writing career elaborated the rich black vernacular from her southern upbringing and also of her anthropology training from the prestigious Barnard College (Slawson 209). Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Florida. It was one of the first all-black towns to be formed after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and is thought to heavily influence and inspire Hurston’s writings (Wall 380). The death of her mother when she was only nine marked a turning point that redirected her life (“Hurston, Zora Neale” 527). She ended up landing a job working as a wardrobe girl with a Gilbert and Sullivan repertory theater company (Wall 382). After separating from the touring group Hurston began working her way through school by pure determination. She attended high school at night in Baltimore, focusing on English and then she eventually was accepted and started attending Howard College. It was there that she began to realize the literary potential to develop the cultural surrounding and the artistry of the folktales that would launch a remarkable career as a creative writer (“Hurston, Zora Neale” 527).
Hurston arrived in Harlem in 1925, the peak of the Harlem Renaissance; however she had no problem settling in and finding her place among the elites. During the 1920’s, it was by no means an easy time for a single black woman to establish herself as a writer, most black women were employed as domestic help or store clerks. She must be seen as “living against the grain” and her “ideals and standards of traditional womanhood” were tremendously different at that time for both black and white women (“Hurston, Zora Neale” 527). Upon her arrival, she immediately became an active participant with painters, musicians, sculptors, entertainers, and writers who all gathered from around the country to participate in Harlem’s...
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