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Hurston's Motivations

You will be writing an essay that asks you to “discuss how Zora Neale Hurston’s writing is both a reflection of and a departure from the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance.” While at minimum you are expected to identify her connection to the Harlem Renaissance, an exemplary paper will attempt to explain why she wrote with this sometimes loose connection to the spirit of the time.  To get you thinking about this, answer the questions below on this sheet or on a separate one. Each response should be fully developed (a paragraph that includes an opening statement, evidence, commentary for the evidence, and a closing statement); a sentence or two is insufficient.


  1. We have read three works from Hurston - “Sweat,” “How it Feels to be Colored Me,” and Their Eyes Were Watching God. Choose one of these texts and explain why Hurston may have departed from the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance in writing it. Be sure that your response is specific to that text and how it was a departure. You might consider her values, how she may have felt about the Harlem Renaissance, who her expected audience might have been, or any other details that might explain her choices.

  2. Choose a second work and explain why she may have departed from the ideals of the Harlem Renaissance in it. Consider a different motivation than the previous question!