Identity in Looking For Zora by Alice Walker

Categories: Alice Walker

Alice Walker's essay, "Looking for Zora," takes readers on a journey to Eatonville, Florida, in search of the truth about the legendary Zora Neale Hurston. Walker immerses herself in the role of Zora's niece, determined to uncover the mysteries surrounding Zora's life and death. Through her investigation, Walker delves into the emotional and intellectual legacy left behind by this influential writer. Rather than focusing on the physical aspects of Zora's final resting place, Walker seeks to understand the essence of who Zora was and the impact she had on those around her.

One of the key strategies that Walker employs in her essay is the use of pathos to evoke empathy in her audience. By sharing her personal quest to honor Zora with a gravestone, Walker invites readers to connect with the emotional journey she undertakes. The discovery that Zora died of malnutrition comes as a shock to Walker, prompting her to seek out more information from Dr. Benton, Zora's physician.

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The revelation that Zora actually died from a stroke adds another layer of complexity to the narrative, highlighting the challenges and struggles that Zora faced in her final days.

Despite the somber subject matter, Walker infuses her essay with moments of humor that provide a sense of lightness and humanity to the story. From shouting out to Zora in the graveyard to engaging in playful banter with Rosalee, Walker's wit and charm shine through in her interactions with those she encounters on her quest. The decision to purchase a monument stone and have it engraved as a tribute to Zora's memory reflects Walker's deep respect and admiration for the author she seeks to honor.

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Throughout her essay, Walker paints a vivid portrait of Zora Hurston as a complex and multifaceted individual. Despite her humble beginnings and lack of material wealth, Zora's intellect and creativity set her apart as a truly remarkable figure. Dr. Benton's recollections of Zora's sharp mind and independent spirit serve as a testament to the lasting impact she had on those who knew her.

One of the central themes that emerges from Walker's exploration of Zora's life is the idea that identity is not fixed or easily defined. Zora's ability to transcend racial boundaries and connect with people from diverse backgrounds speaks to her universal appeal and enduring relevance. By challenging conventional notions of race and belonging, Zora embodied a spirit of inclusivity and acceptance that resonates with readers to this day.

Ultimately, Walker's essay serves as a powerful tribute to the life and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston. Through her meticulous research and heartfelt reflections, Walker sheds light on the complexities of Zora's story and the enduring impact of her work. By honoring Zora's memory with a physical monument and a heartfelt tribute, Walker ensures that Zora's legacy will continue to inspire and captivate readers for generations to come.


Updated: Feb 15, 2024
Cite this page

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

Identity in Looking For Zora by Alice Walker essay
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