African American Literature

Topics: African American, American Civil War, Zora Neale Hurston Pages: 4 (1171 words) Published: June 27, 2015

African American Literature
Kyle Lysher
Julie Kares

African American Literature
While the cultural identity of any one race cannot be summed up by a review of their literature, African American culture is perhaps the most well rounded in terms of presentation of a cultural identity. While other cultures have been celebrated for their accomplishments in literature, African American literature endured years of hardship before being accepted by the general public. The themes of African American literature are often similar, yet deceivingly diverse and thus require careful examination in order to understand the subtle diversity within various works. As most anyone can tell you, African American's experienced a very tumultuous start in America and their acceptance in to the fabric of America is still ongoing, leading to a unifying voice within their literature - a voice that speaks about repression and acceptance, violence and peace, and individualism and the collective. Three prime examples of this shared yet varied identity can be seen in the works "My White Folks Treated Us Good" by Marriah Hines, "To My Old Master" by Jourdon Anderson, and lastly by "Sweat" by Zora Neale Hurston - three works that may have been written within 100 years of each other, but exemplify just how quickly the everyday life of an African American changed.

While stories about the harsh conditions that many slaves had to endure in Antebellum America are plentiful, Marrish Hines portrayed the other side of the coin in "My White Folks Treated Us Good." A common literary convention among African American literature is the use of storytelling and oral recounting and the use of informal language, typically because the culture is rooted in a history that denied them access to appropriate materials or learning - most could not read, let alone had the time to relax and read a book even if they could. Despite this hardship, Marriah Hines deftly presents the...

References: Anderson, Jourdan "To My Old Master." (1865) ) African American Literature: A Brief Introduction & Anthology. Ed. Young, A. (1997): Longman
Hines, Marriah "My White Folks Treated Us Good." (1937) African American Literature: A Brief Introduction & Anthology. Ed. Young, A. (1997): Longman
Hurston, Zora Neale "Sweat." (1926) African American Literature: A Brief Introduction & Anthology. Ed. Young, A. (1997): Longman
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