Study Guide

Zora Neale Hurston Quotes

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"All next day in the house and store she thought resisting thoughts about Tea Cake. She even ridiculed him in her mind and was a little ashamed of the association. But every hour or two the battle had to be fought all over again. She couldn't make him look just like any other man to her. He looked like the love thoughts of women. He could be a bee to a blossom—a pear tree blossom in the spring. He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps. Crushing aromatic herbs with every step he took. Spices hung about him. He was a glance from God."

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

"Delia pushed back her plate and got up from the table. 'Ah hates you, Sykes,' she said calmly. 'Ah hates you tuh de same degree dat Ah useter love yuh. Ah done took an' took till mah belly is full up tuh mah neck. Dat's de reason Ah got mah letter fum de church an' moved mah membership tuh Woodbridge—so Ah don't haf tuh take no sacrament wid yuh. Ah don't wantuh see yuh 'roun' me atall. Lay 'roun' wid dat 'oman all yuh wants tuh, but gwan 'way fum me an' mah house. Ah hates yuh lak uh suck-egg dog.'"

Zora Neale Hurston, "Sweat"

"Folklore is not as easy to collect as it sounds. The best source is where there are the least outside influences and these people, being usually underprivileged, are the shyest. They are most reluctant at times to reveal that which the soul lives by. And the N****, in spite of his open faced laughter, his seeming acquiescence, is particularly evasive. You see we are a polite people and we do not say to our questioner, 'Get out of here!' We smile and tell him or her something that satisfies the white person because, knowing so little about us, he doesn't know what he is missing. The Indian resists curiosity by a stony silence. The N**** offers a feather bed resistance, that is, we let the probe enter, but it never comes out. It gets smothered under a lot of laughter and pleasantries."

Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men

"For various reasons, the average, struggling, non-morbid N**** is the best-kept secret m America. His revelation to the public is the thing needed to do away with that feeling of difference which inspires fear, and which ever expresses itself in dislike. "It is inevitable that this knowledge will destroy many illusions and romantic traditions which America probably likes to have around. But then, we have no record of anybody sinking into a lingering death on finding out that there was no Santa Claus. The old world will take it in its stride."

Zora Neale Hurston, "What White Publishers Won't Print"

"The sensory sweep of her novel carries no theme, no message, no thought."

Richard Wright, on Their Eyes Were Watching God

"Confident to the point of conceit, she was by most accounts a flamboyant, infinitely inventive chameleon of a woman, who could make herself equally at home among the Haitian voodoo doctors who informed her research and the Park Avenue patrons who financed it. She was a lightning rod of contradiction and controversy. A devoted daughter of the rural South, she was, on the one hand, a fierce cultural nationalist who championed the black folk at every turn of the page, and on the other a political conservative who declared in print that slavery was the price she paid for civilization and famously opposed the Supreme Court's 1954 school desegregation decision."

Ann duCille, "Looking for Zora"

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