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The Problem Of The Female: Marriage And 'sistergirl' Relationships In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

4389 words - 18 pages

Zora Neale Hurston, a celebrated writer during the Harlem Renaissance, has entered the consciousness of critics, writers, and students alike with her unique way of presenting issues deeply rooted in the black community. Her writings have caused critics and scholars to re-open and re-evaluate discussion on the ideals and principals of black feminism. Along with this discussion has come much debate about whether Zora Hurston and her works, most notably, Their Eyes Were Watching God, fit into the canon of black feminist literature.Hurston was born on January 7, 1891 in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated all-black town in America. There has been some debate over the year of her birth; Zora herself has stated that she may have been born in 1901, however there is no debating the place of her birth, as Eatonville has become the backdrop of many of her works. As the daughter of a Baptist minister and educated scholar who appreciated the validity and genius of the black vernacular, Zora was afforded the opportunity to look at her life from a different perspective. From her unique vantage point, Zora was able to appreciate the natural things in life, while also learning about the goodness in people. Living in an all-black town, she never experienced racism or any other type of hatred--those experiences would follow later in life, and become fodder for many of her short stories and novels.At the age of thirteen years, after the passing of her mother, Zora was sent away to school in Jacksonville, Florida. It was here that she began to realize that the world saw her as a colored girl, not just a girl in love with books and the theater. Although this was a difficult fact for her to accept, rather than take it bitterly, she internalized it and turned it into part of Janie's self discovery in Their Eyes Were Watching God, some twenty-three years later.When she reached the age of sixteen, Zora became a member of a traveling theater group, and eventually found herself living in Baltimore, Maryland. She soon began working for a white woman as a maid. This woman saw that Zora had a special spark, and because of that, arranged for her to attend the Morgan Academy high school (now Morgan State University). While at the Academy, she wrote her first story, for which she won an award. This award was the catalyst for what was to become a celebrated, yet somewhat tempestuous career in writing.Upon her graduation in 1918, she went on to Howard University in Washington D.C. Although her career there was promising, she was forced to withdraw due to illness and financial hardship. In 1925, she moved to New York City to continue writing and her pursuit of higher education. During that same year, she became the first African-American to enroll into Barnard College, the women's division of Columbia University. This was made possible because of a special scholarship arranged for her by Arnie Nathan Meyer, one of the founders of Barnard. In 1927, she became the first black...

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