Alice Walker & Zora Neale Hurston Case Study – Arts & Humanities Assignment Help

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Summary and Reading Analysis

Alice Walker; In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens
The reading, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Walker (1972), looks at the lives of black women during the post-construction era. It focuses on black women artists and creatives that had no outlet for their talent but were known for their intense spiritual commitment. Despite their skills and talent, they were more celebrated for their spiritual piety when racial inequality thrived, ultimately being considered “Saints” (Walker, 1972, p.401). The article examines how these mothers and grandmothers kept their talents alive when it was considered a punishable offense for blacks to read and write. For many of the music that was still banned at the time became an outlet. 

What stood out most for me was how difficult the lives of black women during the era were. The other significant thing that stood out was how difficult the lives of the talented ones were. According to the reading, many talented women during the 16th and 17th centuries were seen as outcasts, which had a negative psychological impact driving them to end their lives. An example is given in the article of Phillis Whatley in the 1700s, who tried in vain to use her skill of poetry (Walker, 1972, p.404). Such women and other creatives lived at a time when all form of progress was stifled, and despite all that hatred and impediments, they still managed to find ways of passing on their skills and talents in poetry, singing, and short story writing, among others. It is surprising that despite the tremendous challenges faced by these women, many of them become world-class acts with talents and works that outlived them. The article mentions some of them who thrived from their grandmothers’ and mothers’ skills, like Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin. 

Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston is a brief biography about the famous African American author and filmmaker. The writing traces her early life and studies and how she kicked off her renowned author and filmmaker career. According to the report, she is considered one of the top and one of the more prominent products of the Harlem Renaissance (Class Reading). Early in Langston Hughes’s autobiography, Zora Hurston was introduced to the public eye as an eccentric woman and a disconcerting character. Most of Zora’s works portrayed the racial struggles that blacks were exposed to in the early part of the 20th century (Class Reading). Some of her earlier works included Drenched in the Light and Color Struck. However, her most significant works included Their Eyes Were Watching God, touching on complex themes of sexism and poverty during the era. 

The last part of the report is covered by ‘Sweat,’ one of her early works touching on the story of a black washerwoman living with an insecure husband and the perils of an abusive marriage. What stood out for me when reading the piece was Zora Hurston’s personal life and the experience of growing through a period where racial inequalities abound. Interestingly, she took the experiences and turned them into plays and books. What seemed like a detrimental and challenging part of her daily life and those around her turned out as a platform for speaking out about complex issues that people of color faced. The other aspect that stood out for me was how complicated her life became for speaking out. She was celebrated and critiqued for her works in equal measure by both races. Ironically her career was later destroyed by false accusations by the very people she spent her life protecting and seeking justice for.  

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