Dust Tracks on a Road

by Zora Neale Hurston

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Describe Zora's response to the gifts she receives in Dust Tracks on a Road?

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One afternoon two young ladies visit Zora's school to listen to the students read. The ladies are so impressed by Zora's reading that they decide to invite her to the hotel they are staying at, and it is there that they present her with a number of gifts.

At first the ladies give Zora food "like stuffed dates and preserved ginger," which Zora finds "strange." She has not tasted food like this before. Next the ladies give Zora "a heavy cylinder done up in fancy paper, tied with a ribbon." The ladies tell Zora to take the cylinder home and open it there. When Zora gets home, she discovers "one hundred goldy-new pennies" inside the cylinder. Describing her reaction, she says that she would "never experience such joy again." She also says that, in hindsight, the closest feeling of joy that she experienced after that moment was the moment when she received a telegram, many years later, informing her that her first book had been accepted. Describing the pennies that spilled out of the cylinder, Zora says that the "gleam lit up the world." She also says that it was not greed or "avarice" which made her so happy but rather "the beauty of the thing," meaning the cylinder itself and the "gleam" of the pennies.

The next day Zora receives more presents. She receives "an Episcopal hymn-book bound in white leather," "a copy of The Swiss Family Robinson, and a book of fairy tales." Zora enjoys reading some of the hymns and committing their words to memory, but she finds the others "dull and without life."

After the ladies return to Minnesota, they send Zora another gift. They send her "a huge box packed with clothes and books." One of the items of clothes is a "red coat with a wide circular collar," which Zora likes very much. Zora also says that her friends became envious of the gifts she received. She also says that, wearing the clothes she had been sent, she "shone like the morning sun." The implication here is that Zora was proud of the clothes she received from the two ladies.

However, Zora says that, above all, she derived the greatest pleasure from the books she received. The Norse tales particularly, she says, struck "deeply into (her) soul." She also enjoyed reading authors like Hans Anderson and Robert Louis Stevenson. These books were obviously very important to Zora as they encouraged her love of reading which, in turn, encouraged her to become a writer.

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