Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography was written when Zora Neale Hurston was about fifty years old. The book poignantly describes what it was like to grow up poor, black, and female; it shows an energetic woman who overcomes odds to achieve a liberated, rewarding life. Hurston was born in Eatonville, Florida, America’s first incorporated black community. Her father was a driving force in the community; her mother died when she was nine. The liberating force for Hurston was her love of knowledge. While at the black grammar school, she won a reading contest, receiving books that ignited her imagination. In turn, she learned about real life at Joe Clarke’s store, the meeting place of the men in town.
After her mother’s death, she was moved from place to place. It was her own initiative that released her from her circumstances. When she learned that an actress in a traveling Gilbert and Sullivan troupe was looking for a lady’s maid, she approached the woman with “I come to work for you.” When her service ended—a service that had been a marvelous education in humanity and the arts—she went back to night high school, then to Howard University and Barnard College.
At Barnard, working under anthropologist Franz Boas, she studied the folklore of her people in Polk County, Florida. This began a lifelong interest in the roots of her people. Yet some of Hurston’s greatest friends and confidants were the upper-class whites she met both in...
(The entire section is 418 words.)