Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hurston's Light

One symbol that really struck me so far in this novel was the lamp post Joe bought for the town. Although only one passage is dedicated to it, I think this light is extremely representative of Hurston's beliefs about her own race and the town where she grew up.

"All we can do, if we want any light after de settin' or befo' de risin', is tuh make some light ourselves. . .Dis evenin' we'se all assembled heah tuh light uh lamp. Dis occassion is something for us all tuh remember tuh our dyin' day. De first street lamp in uh colored town" (45).

The light is primarily symbolic of the town of Eatonville. When Starks says "make some light ourselves" it's like how all the town people came together to make an all-Black town for themselves with the same rights and privileges as white towns. They had to do it without outside help, and the fate of the town depends on everyone's ability to keep their culture alive, or keep the light burning, so to speak.

The light is also representative of the spirit Hurston carries for her own culture, and she sends a message to her African American readers in the next line made by Starks:

"And when Ah touch de match tuh dat lampwick let de light penetrate inside of yuh, and let it shine, let it shine, let it shine" (45).

Hurston is encouraging the celebration of the African American spirit within her readers, a focal point of her writing.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Amanda about the light being symbolic. I also thought that it might symbolize hope for their new town. This is similar to what Amanda said about everyone gathering around to light it and the town finally having a lamp like the white towns did.