Identity in Looking For Zora by Alice Walker

Categories: Alice WalkerIdentity

In her essay Looking for Zora, Alice Walker ventures out to Eatonville Florida to find out more about Zora Hurston. Walker masquerades as Zora’s niece and goes around inquiring on what was the cause of Zora’s death, where her grave is currently, and what was she like, alive. Walker argues that the writer’s undignified and unfamiliar resting place is far less important than the memories and influence she has left behind. The main appeal Walker uses is pathos, to evoke empathy in the audience.

In a way, it is seems like she has made it a personal quest to get a stone to put on Zora’s grave as a sign of homage for a great author she was. The author shows an element of surprise when she find out that Zora died of malnutrition. In surprise she states “ Hell, our condition hasn’t changed any since Phillis Wheatley’s time. She died of malnutrition!(Pg.401)” This sounds incredulous to her, so she seeks to find out from another cause of Zora’s death from a Dr.

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Benton who was Zora’s doctor. Dr. Benton confirms that Zora died from a stroke. He states “She had a stroke and died in the welfare home” (Pg. 407). Also we can see that the author uses humor.

For example, when she goes to look for Zora’s grave, she yells out at the graveyard “ Zora!..I’m here. Are you?” (Pg. 403). She continues to use humor when she converses with Rosalee as they are looking for Zora’s grave.

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Walker concludes her visit by buying a monument stone and has it engraved then visits where Zora used to live before her illness and death. I think this was a very interesting piece by Walker. She narrates her journey vividly to show the readers her emotional journey to find out about Zora Hurston. Zora must have been a really interesting person. From the essay, even Dr. Benton kept saying how she always used her mind and she was so intelligent.

Today, most scholars, veterans and other people of significance are given a sort of ‘decent’ burial, but Zora had pauper’s funeral without any tombstone, yet ‘alot’ of people seemed to know her. Through Walker’s essay, she emphasizes the fact that Zora did not necessarily identify with one race, white or black, in particular and did not even have a good relationship with her own family. I believe that Walker’s argument had to do with Zora’s admiral ability to identify with cultures besides what many thought should have been her own, black community. I felt that this directly relates to the way in which Zora tried to eliminate the importance of color from her life, although it was an enormous influence on everything she did.

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Identity in Looking For Zora by Alice Walker. (2016, Mar 13). Retrieved from

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