Zora Neale Hurston Research Paper

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Defining Nationalism: Gender Roles in African-American Literature The Harlem Renaissance and the emergence of the “New Negro” movement introduced black and white audiences to the literary abilities of African-Americans. As black writers yearned to be taken seriously by white audiences, Richard Wright set himself apart by opting to solely write for blacks and appeal to their experiences. In “Blueprint for Negro Writing”, Richard Wright outlines the direction black writing should be headed towards to instill nationalism in the black community. However, Wright’s nationalism limits African American literature because his “Blueprint” does not include the entire black community by limiting the views of black females. By diminishing the views…show more content…
Hurston writes her short story “Spunk” in the folk tradition using black vernacular and writing about black culture. As a writer in the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston strived to create literature that portrayed blacks as humans. “Spunk” revolves around Lena, a married woman that is having an open affair with Spunk. Through her own volition, she decides to leave her husband for Spunk. Hurston portrays two different types of males in Joe and Spunk. Joe, Lena’s husband, Joe, is a coward who is afraid to confront Spunk, the dominant male, and get his wife back. The story ends with both men dead and the townspeople wondering who Lena’s next lover will be. The acquisition of Lena is the central topic of the short story. Hurston accurately depicts how women are seen as property or something that men have to fight over. Although Lena is only heard from once in the story, she has a strong voice and is assertive as well. Hurston focuses on sexism and allowing the female voice to be heard by creating powerful female characters. However, only examining “Spunk” through Wright’s nationalist ideal limits how we see Hurston’s writing. Her writing does not fit into Wright’s masculine nationalist ideal, but it does not mean that Hurston’s writing is too simple. In “Gods of Physical Violence, Stopping at Nothing: Masculinity, Religion, and Art in the Work of Zora Neale Hurston”, Peter Kerry Powers states: “Hurston criticism has done little to examine her attitudes toward masculinity, underscoring instead Hurston’s self-description as the “eternal feminine” and emphasizing the role of her heroic women in resisting patriarchy” (231). Similar to Wright, many others who criticized Hurston’s writing have failed to notice the correlation between how damaging American patriarchy was to black women and how this influenced her to create strong female

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