Monday, February 16, 2009

Dust Tracks on a Road vs. Their Eyes Were Watching God

Charlotte, you posted so early! I don’t mean to repeat any of your thoughts, but I also saw many parallels to Zora Neale Hurston’s life. Hopefully I will only expand on what you have already said. What stood out the most to me was when I read of Janie’s realization that she was black. I immediately was reminded of Dust Tracks on a Road and the scene where Zora asks the white travelers for a ride. Zora says, “One way to Orlando ran past my house, so the carriages and cars would pass before me... Often the white travelers would hail me, but more often I hailed them, and asked, "Don’t you want me to go a piece of the way with you?" Zora as a young child was naïve and oblivious to the racism that surrounded her. In a way it is a shame that she could not stay that way forever and was soon exposed to the harsh reality of her time. As a child she was told, "Git down offa dat gatepost! You li’l sow, you! Git down! Setting up dere looking dem white folks right in de face! They’s gowine to lynch you, yet.” Yet despite warnings, a naïve Zora continued to look for an adventure and ask passing white travelers for a ride.
This same innocence is echoed in There Eyes Were Watching God, when Janie says “Ah didn’t know Ah wuzn’t white til Ah was round six years old. Wouldn’t have found it out then, but a man come long takin’ pictures” (8). Janie was so accustomed to being around white children that she never noticed her darker skin color, much like Zora did not notice the difference between her and the passing white travelers. It was not until Janie saw a picture of herself with the white children that she noticed a difference. This proves that racism is taught and that it is not an intrinsic quality of humans.
I find it interesting then that Hurston was against desegregated schools. I would have thought that she would wanted black and white children to learn together since at a young age she did not notice the difference between skin colors. I wonder why she formed the opinions that she did at an older age.

1 comment:

  1. Haha sorry Rachel. But I really agree with your connection to Hurston's views on racism and desegregation. As a child Hurston most likely realized she was black - and Janie's related epiphany is an exaggeration - but she wouldn't have realized that being a different skin color should make her feel any different. So it makes sense that she would carry that sentiment over to her view that black children didn't need white children to learn, but that they had their own culture and should be taught as unique people of an equal intelligence.