Living in the South during 1942, Zora Hurston gives the reader a first-person point of view of her valued yet constricted childhood as an African American. By using diction from a young girl’s perspective and her manipulation of point of view, Zora enriches our sense of her childhood. Most importantly, the time period of a belligerent WWII foreshadows Zora’s conflict to try to break free from authority and her audacity to speak her mind.
From the beginning of the narrative, Zora shows a sense of nostalgia as she relates back to the abundance of the nature scenery: “I loved the fleshy, white, fragrant blooms as a child.” Even a profound amount of food was growing right beside her: “We had a five-acre garden with things to eat growing in it, and so we were never hungry.” Zora’s childhood shows an opulence of food that was always plentiful in her surroundings. The diction of adjectives she uses of her physical surroundings: “five-acre”, “hundreds” and “plenty” give the reader a sense of upper class standards indicating that the family was well-off. Zora’s outlook of her affluence is innocuous and naive; she uses this childish innocence to manipulate the reader into believing she lives a life of jubilation.
On the contrary, Zora Hurston struggles with social tensions and conflicts within her family. The teaching from her parents stress that they should live by the rules following conformity. “Zora’s mother feels that she needs to constrict her children’s outdoor social play because she believes that there is no desire to live like “no-count Negroes and poor-white trash. The manipulation of language used by Zora indicates the slang used by African-Americans to express their emotions. Throughout the end of the narrative, the grammar errors begin to flourish. This indicates the type of slang language used between colored individuals in the South during the time period of 1942.
“It did not do for Negroes to have too much spirit.” Zora indicates that her father constricts her from speaking her mind and would threaten her if she did try to speak with that “sassy tongue.” Coming from a youngster’s point of view, Zora shows her audacity of her willingness to break free of law and order against conformity. Mildly disparaging her father’s threatening manner, Zora manipulates her point of view to make the reader believe that her father is unkind and abusive. In truth, the father is just trying to guard Zora from a tough life that she is destined to face as an African American.
Reminiscing through the days of 1942, Zora Hurston helps bring the reader to an emotional awakening of her life as an African American girl. The diction and strong emotion she uses helps put the reader in Zora’s position to feel first hand exactly what she is going through. All in all, Zora is a young adolescent who admires the affluence and security of her physical surroundings yet struggles with an internal conflict of yearning to “jump at de sun.”
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