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How do John Steinbeck and Zora Neale Hurston use images from nature to describe their...

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activeg | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:15 PM via web

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How do John Steinbeck and Zora Neale Hurston use images from nature to describe their characters' feelings?


What do both steinbeck and hurston convey? What do both writers reveal about the depression years?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 28, 2010 at 4:30 PM (Answer #1)

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I would say that both thinkers articulate the condition of the dispossessed in American Society both within and outside of the confines of the Depression years.  During this time frame, I think that there are many examples of individual narratives that can seen as existing "outside" the norm.  There were many who were dispossessed.  Yet, Steinbeck and Hurston articulate a condition of individuals who were in this camp prior to the Depression years.  For Steinbeck, writing about migrant Americans who were forced into a nomadic way of life due to economic realities and the desire to live out America's promises helped to convey a compelling portrait that what it means to be "American" might lie outside the realm of accepted social predicaments.  Hurston writes of the condition experienced by people of color, specifically African- Americans.  Similar to Steinbeck, she is writing about a group of people who also seek to find and establish roots in a setting where American's promises were not only sought but perceived to be something to which there is a sense of entitlement.  This is completely understandable given how Hurston articulates that the condition of slavery and servitude cannot simply be forgotten and dismissed, but rather seen as part of the context of what it means to be Black at the time.  Both writers speak to the idea that "America" consists of multiple dialogues and forums, and divergent voices within its totality.

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