Zora Neale Hurston: Reflection In Her Work

1784 words - 8 pages

Authors get their ideas on paper in many ways. They can use their imagination making up everything from thin air. They can use their past experiences or experiences that others relate to them. A better explanation about how authors end up writing what we read is best clarified by an author themselves. Ursula Le Guin an American novelist explains, “I don't believe that a writer "gets" (takes into the head) an "idea" (some sort of mental object) "from" somewhere, and then turns it into words, and writes them on paper. The stuff has to be transformed into oneself, it has to be composted, before it can grow into a story.” If that is too complicated to understand we have the help of Robertson Davis a Canadian novelist who says, “I don't get them (ideas) they get me.” We may not ever know completely as readers how stories are created, but we can see that daily life influences everyone. This is no different for authors. What authors encounter in their daily life can easily influence what they write about. After reading some stories by Zora Neale Hurston, one can see how much the era she lived in had an effect in her writing. Her short stories “The Glided-Six Bits" and “Sweat” portray signs of The Great Depression and poverty life that was present during Hurston’s time.
Hurston lived through a sad historical event in American history: The Great Depression. The Great Depression was a period of worldwide economic depression that lasted from 1929 until approximately 1939. The starting point of the Great Depression is usually listed as October 29, 1929, commonly called Black Tuesday. This was the date when the stock market fell dramatically 12.8%. Herbert Hoover was president at the beginning of the Great Depression. He tried to institute reforms to help stimulate the economy but they had little to no effect. By 1933, unemployment in the United States was at a staggering 25% (Kelly). During this time period Hurston used all her energy to writing, her major pieces being “The Glided-Six Bits", Mules and Men, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. "The Gilded Six-Bits" shows significant signs of the similar events that occurred during The Great Depression. The setting takes place mainly in the small African-American town of Eatonville, Florida, in the early 1930s. There is an indication of the town being poor as it begins with, “It was a Negro yard around a Negro house in a Negro settlement… but there was something happy about the place” (Hurston 556). One infers that this settlement can be a “Hooverville” poor settlements that were named after President Herbert Hoover. Jobs were being lost and the savings that people had were slowly running out. Most people had loans on their house if they didn’t pay up they were kicked out. Those who became homeless built shantytowns all around the country. Even though few people still found jobs, they were not enough for them to get out of Hoovervilles. The federal government attempted to lower the bad situation, but all...

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