“How It Feels to Be Colored Me” Symbolism

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“How It Feels to Be Colored Me” Symbolism Imagine a small agricultural based town located in the Southern-most part of Georgia during the 1930’s. Muggy, mosquito-filled cotton fields are brimming with vibrant, overbearing, strong personalities struggling with prejudice, violence and real-life problems. Characters jovially tell stories and jokes in a language entirely unique to their culture, while attempting to win against all odds. A plot such as the one described above could be commonly found in many Southern Gothic novels. According to Mo Walsh “…southern gothic literature [is] popular across the globe…” (Walsh 1), due to the historical appeal of the storyline described above. One of the greatest Southern Gothic writers of all time is Zora Neale Hurston. Her societal views on racism expressed heavily in her writing challenged commonly held beliefs among a myriad of individuals. Hurston’s works such as Their Eyes are Watching God and “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”, display her use of literary elements to describe the racial injustices and cultural pride throughout her time period. In “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”, by Zora Neal Hurston, Hurston employs the oyster knife symbol, the rock symbol and the brown bag symbol to illustrate her pride in her racial culture and identity. Hurston employs three contextual symbols in her literary work “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”; the oyster knife, the rock and the brown bag are all used to represent that despite Hurston’s struggle with racial injustices she still proudly considers herself an equal American citizen. Soon after the impacts of her racial discovery at a young age, Hurston compares her mindset to the mindset she is expected to have as a minority: “I am not tragically colored...I do not mind at all…I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife” (Hurston 1). Hurston uses the symbol of the oyster knife to not only
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