How It Feels to Be Colored Me Essay
“How It Feels To Be Colored Me” is an original writing from Zora Neale Hurston — How It Feels to Be Colored Me Essay introduction. The writing describes Zora Hurston’s own perception of her life and being colored. Zora begins by describing her life in the small all colored town of Eatonville, Florida. The town had no whites except for those that passed through. Most people didn’t acknowledge the whites that passed through but she was fond of them and enjoyed talking and preforming for them. She did not see the whites as different from her because of their skin color, she thought of everyone as equal.
She deems herself as “everybody’s Zora”, and felt as though she belonged to everyone; the blacks, whites, all parts of the town. She then describes having to leave Eatonville for Jacksonville when she turned thirteen, and was no longer a part of her town, but just another colored girl. She then begins to describe how she is not “tragically colored”, she embraces her skin color and does not see it as a disadvantage or a reminder of her ancestors slavery. Zora then describes her metaphor on life, she sees herself as a brown paper bag amongst other paper bags of a different color that are filled with random contents.
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If the contents were emptied from the insides of the bags and refilled not very much would change. She then ends her essay by stating that maybe the “Great Stuffer of Bags”, purposely made the bags and its contents that way on purpose. The “Great Stuffer of Bags”, I’m assuming is her metaphor for God. I greatly enjoyed this essay. I thought that her descriptive writing placed a detailed imagine in my head and I could see every scene that she described about her journey in life. I thought that her enthusiasm for embracing her life and her colored skin was inspiring.
To be able to take what some may think as a disadvantage in life, and turn it into a benefit is a great way to live in the world. I also enjoyed her metaphor of the bags filled with miscellaneous contents. Everyone is different, but when put together and mixed we are all one. The thesis of the essay I believe is the very first sentence of her essay, “I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother’s side was not an Indian chief. The first four words set the tone of the essay in the sense of yes she is colored but that’s not all that she is. The essay relates to the readings from “Everything’s an Argument”, in the sense of appealing to emotion and character. While the essay in not an argument, the writing still appeals to emotions, or pathos by making you feel what the author feels about her life and experiences she goes through by being colored. The essay also identifies with the character, or ethos by describing herself and appealing to the reader and allowing us to identify with her through her descriptive writing.
How It Feels to be Colored Me Summary and Study Guide
Zora Neal Hurston
How It Feels to be Colored Me
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How It Feels to be Colored Me Summary and Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 24-page guide for the short story “How It Feels to be Colored Me” by Zora Neal Hurston includes detailed a summary and analysis, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 15 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Harlem Renaissance and the “New Negro” and Race and Identity.
This guide is based on the electronic version of Zora Neale Hurston’s “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” available at the University of Virginia’s Mules and Men website. The original essay was published in the May 1928 edition of The World Tomorrow. Hurston’s essay is her explanation of how she experiences being African-American.
Hurston opens the essay with the comment that she is “a Negro” and unlike many African-Americans claims no Native American ancestry. Prior to the age of thirteen, Hurston lived in the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida, where her only contacts with nonblacks were with the Southern and Northern tourists who drove through the town. No one was curious about the familiar Southerners, but most people were so fascinated by the Northerners that they watched them from their porches.
Hurston, not content with the porch, would sit on a gatepost at the entrance of town to greet the tourists, ask them questions, ask for rides out of town, or even perform for them, only to be surprised when they gave her money for doing what she loved. At this point in her life, Hurston’s only perception of differences between whites and blacks was that whites did not live in her town and paid her for performing.
This attitude changed when Hurston was sent to Jacksonville by riverboat to attend school at thirteen. Hurston notes that for the first time, she was a “little colored girl” instead of simply being herself (par. 5, line 5). Despite this change, Hurston says she is not “tragically colored” and has no feeling that being black is a curse (par. 6, line 1).Hurston’s perspective on her place in the world is that she is instead “too busy sharpening her oyster knife,” eager to take in what the world has to offer (par. 6, line 6).
When people insist on reminding Hurston that she is descended from slaves, she feels no sadness about it because slavery is “sixty years in the past” and simply the price of belonging to Western civilization (par. 7, line 3). Being the descendent of slaves means for Hurston that she has even more opportunities for achievement and glory because she is starting from nothing and the nation, fixated on race, is focused on people like her. By contrast, Hurston pities whites, who are weighed down by their ancestors and stuck with maintaining their privilege.
In her present life, Hurston has moments when she only feels black if she is in an all-white setting, such as when she attends classes at Barnard College, an institution attended by few people of color. In other moments, the presence of a white person in an all-black setting also makes Hurston feel conscious of her racial identity. She describes sitting in a Harlem cabaret and being swept away by the rhythms of the music, which connect her to her African ancestry, only to be surprised by a white friend’s more casual enjoyment of the music.
Sometimes, Hurston feels no sense of racial identity. When she promenades down a main thoroughfare in Harlem, she is the “cosmic Zora”and feels more potently feminine that Peggy Hopkins Joyce, the 1920s equivalent of a Kardashian (par. 14, line 4). Hurston experiences her American identity as being indistinguishable from her racial identity. When someone discriminates against her, she is surprised, rather than angry, because it puzzles her that anyone would deprive him — or herself of the pleasure of knowing her.
Hurston closes the essay with the image of each human being asa “bag of miscellany” (par. 17, line 1),filled with a mix of worthless and precious things, distinguishable only by the color of the bags. Shespeculates that switching the contents of bags would reveal how similar they are inside and that perhaps this is…
How It Feels to Be Colored Me Summary
Zora Neale Hurston
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In «How It Feels to Be Colored Me,» Zora Neale Hurston describes her experiences as an African American woman in early 20th Century America. She describes people as different colored bags, all of which are filled with the random bits of things that make up life.
Raised in an all-black community in Florida, Hurston did not have much reason to consider her race until she left home at age thirteen to go to boarding school in Jacksonville. In Eatonville, her hometown, Hurston was, “everybody’s Zora,” but when she got to Jacksonville, her race was no longer invisible to her, because the city was more diverse, “I was not Zora of Orange County any more, I was now a little colored girl.”
Hurston recounts a number of experiences where she has “felt her race.” At college in Barnard, she was “a dark rock surged upon, overswept by a creamy sea.” She also describes a time she went to a jazz club with a white friend, and while she found herself deeply affected by the music, her white friend was not similarly affected, which Hurston chalks up to their racial difference. Despite her position as a black woman, in this essay, Hurston does not engage in self-pity, but takes racial difference and discrimination in stride.
Hurston uses the metaphor of colored bags to describe what people are like: bags full of hopes, desires, disappointments, and the stuff of life. If you were to dump these bags out, everyone would be more or less the same, regardless of the color of their skin/bag.
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“How It Feels to Be Colored Me” is a widely anthologized descriptive essay in which Zora Neale Hurston explores the discovery of her identity and self-pride. Following the conventions of description, Hurston employs colorful diction, imagery, and figurative language to take the reader on this journey. Using a conversational tone and multiple colloquialisms, Hurston at the beginning of the essay delves into her childhood in Eatonville, Florida, through anecdotes describing moments when she greeted neighbors, sang and danced in the streets, and viewed her surroundings from a comfortable spot on her front porch. Back then, she was “everybody’s Zora,” free from the alienating feeling of difference. However, when she was thirteen her mother passed away, and she left home to attend a boarding school in Jacksonville where she immediately became «colored.»
Hurston says she does not consider herself “tragically colored” and begins weaving together extended metaphors that suggest her self-pride. She is too busy “sharpening her oyster knife” to stop to think about the pain that discrimination may cause, and as a “dark rock surged upon” she emerges all the stronger for any hardships that she has had to endure. Hurston does, however, acknowledge moments when she feels her (or others’) racial difference, and her experience with a friend at a jazz club marks the distance between their lives.
At the end of the essay, Hurston develops an extended metaphor in which she compares herself to a brown bag stuffed with random bits and bobs. She likens all people to different colored bags that, if emptied into a large pile and re-stuffed, would not be much altered, suggesting that people of varying races are essentially of the same human character. Hurston concludes by asserting that “the Great Stuffer of Bags,” the Creator, may have fashioned people in this way from the very beginning. Thus, Hurston fosters a perspective that looks beyond pride in one’s race to pride in one’s self.
Originally published in the May 1928 edition of The World Tomorrow, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” was a contentious essay that obviously did not fit with the ideologies of racial segregation, nor did it completely mesh with the flowering of black pride associated with the Harlem Renaissance. In the essay, Hurston divorces herself from “the sobbing school of Negrohood” that requires her to continually lay claim to past and present injustices. She can sleep at night knowing that she has lived a righteous life, never fearing that some “dark ghost” might end up next to her in bed. Through her witty words, Hurston delivers a powerful message to challenge the mind-sets of her, and our, time.