The Life and Impact of Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston was born in 1891 in the month of January between the days of the 7th and the 15th in Notasulga, Alabama to John and Lucy Hurston. Zora’s parents didn’t have much money, her mom was a teacher and her dad was a preacher. Zora moved to Eatonville, Florida with her family when she was two. After her mother’s death Zora lived with different family members and family friends trying to support herself until she joined a traveling company at the age of 16, working as a maid for the lead singer.

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Then she left the company when she attended Howard University

Zora was a full time novelist, playwriter, folklorist, and she was an anthropologist. Zora Neale Hurston wasn’t an extremely famous author, her works became famous after she died. Zora was known for being a loud, outspoken person, independent, and eccentric, but she keep her personal life private. Zora became famous when she published her collection of African American folklore called Mules and Men. Zora became known as the first African American female to publish a collection African American folklore. The Gilded Six was the start of her literary career when she published it in 1933 in Story Magazine. Zora also had some of short stories published in her schools newspaper, and magazines. Stylus magazine published Zora’s first short story called “John Redding Goes to Sea”. Opportunity magazine published another one of Zora’s short story called “Drenched in Light”

Zora was an influential person during the Harlem Renaissance, she was known for her wit, irreverence, folklore writing style, and for helping African Americans protect their rights. Throughout Zora’s life she went on many adventures, she undertook fieldwork that included a study of zombies and voodoo rituals in Haiti. Zora made an impact on her close friends, they knew her as a fun, loving, outgoing, and outspoken person. Zora made an impact on many African American lives, she contributed to the acceptance of African Americans in society through her writings and releasing her collections of Folklore. Zora wasn’t a well-known author, so she didn’t make an impact on a lot of people, she was mostly known in the north.

Zora didn’t have many regrets in life but one thing she did regret was that her and Langston Hughes friendship ended. Their friendship ended all because they disagreed over the authorship of the play Mule Bone, which they had written together. Another thing she regrets is that there wasn’t more time, to maybe fix things with her ex-husband Allen Price, go see the world more instead of just going to places for work. In 1948, Zora was arrested for allegedly molesting a boy and his two friends. The boys said that they met with Zora and two other people(one Hispanic mom of four and a black male who was a janitor) every Saturday at 4:30 in the basement of a building in Harlem. The boys were payed 50cents to have oral sex with one of the adults while the others watched. In the end Billy Allen was shown to have a mental disorder and the court proved that the boys were actually having sex with each other, and since Billy’s mother hated Zora she was the one who allegedly instigated the story. Zora career was ruined when her case was leaked and the black community assumed that she was guilty, Zora felt betrayed by her people and became suicidal. What I learned from Zora is that you have to write about what makes you happy and not write about what people think you should.

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story about Janie Crawford who is desperate to find love and be in control of her own life. Throughout the story Janie ruins her chance of having an independent life, because she always uses a man as her way escape. When Janie was young her grandmother made her marry a man named Logan Killicks, he was abusive and threaten to kill Janie so she left. Janie escaped Logan with the help of a man named Joe Starks, who ended up being just like Logan and he also abused Jaine and embarrassed her in public. After Joe died and their marriage over Janie could finally be free, but she marries her last husband Tea Cake. Even though they had a much freer relationship Janie was still being told what to do. In the end Janie is just a weak woman who had her life dictated and limited by men because she was too afraid to stand up to them.
  • Sweat is a story about a woman named Delia Jones who is married to Sykes and he abuses Delia. During their 15 year marriage Delia has gave up all hope of her marriage getting better, or even getting out of it. All the beating started when Sykes yelled at Delia for washing white peoples clothes in his house, even though that was her job. From this point Skyes love for Delia turns to hatred. Sykes cheats on Delia openly and is glad when she catches him with mistress at the store. Sykes even went an bought a rattlesnake to torture Delia even more, she begged him to get rid of it. The snake got free and bit Sykes and he died. Through the story Delia starts to fight back and even grabs a frying pan to defend herself. This Sykes not knowing how to handle woman that fight back he ignores the situation. Towards the end of the story it is shown that Sykes is really a coward, and once he dies Delia is finally free.

In Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie never stuck up for herself, she always went to next man once her relationships were over, she never got her freedom in the end. In Sweat Delia got tired of the abuse from her husband because she had work too hard, and she started to stick up for herself, She only had one husband, she finally got free at the end and was able to live without being in fear of her husband

  • Both were abused by their husband
  • Both were black woman trying to get their freedom
  • Both of focused on pleasing others than themselves
  • Both Janie and Delia were made to look like a fool by their husband in public.


  1. Saladin, Will. “Sweat.” LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 25 Jul 2018. Web. 11 Dec 2018.
  2. Lieberman, Charlotte. “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 17 Sep 2013. Web. 26 Feb 2019.
  3. The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Zora Neale Hurston American Author.” Britannica. Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, 24 Jan 2019
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The Life and Impact of Zora Neale Hurston. (2021, Mar 05). Retrieved from