How It Feels to Be Colored Me Questions and Answers
by Zora Neale Hurston

How It Feels to Be Colored Me book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Explain what Hurston means in the second sentence, "I remember the very day I became colored." What is the effect of the sentence?

Expert Answers info

Christine Stymus eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2019

write27 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Law and Politics, and Social Sciences

The effect of Zora Neale Hurston’s second sentence, “I remember the very day I became colored,” is powerful. The subtext is rich with meaning. Imagine the comfort of feeling as though you belong, as though you are known and loved for who you are; the world, as you know it, is a waterfall of possibilities. This is how thirteen-year-old Zora Hurston felt living in her little town in Eatonville, Florida.

Now, imagine at that age leaving the security of what you know and moving to a large city to go to school. You bring with you that fire of excitement, only to have it quickly extinguished because you instantly realize you are different. You are looked at differently, talked to differently, and suddenly you feel as though you do not belong. Why does Zora feel this way? She has just recognized the meaning of her skin color and begins to learn about discrimination.

The second sentence becomes the theme of the story.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Kitty Sharp eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,509 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

In the second sentence of "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," Zora Neale Hurston says, "I remember the very day that I became colored."  She means that she can remember the moment when she began to identify with being a person of color.  In Hurston's early years, she lived in Eatonville, Florida, which was largely a black town.  Few white people moved through town, and those who did liked to watch Hurston "perform" (singing and dancing) on her front porch.  So, Hurston never felt out of place in Eatonville.  However, her family sent her to Jacksonville when she turned 13-years-old so that she could go to school there.  Once Hurston left Eatonville, she began to experience discrimination, and these experiences made her feel "colored."  The sentence in the essay serves to develop the irony in racial identity--Hurston does not inherently feel like a person of color, and she only experiences feeling "colored" when discrimination poses her as an outsider. 

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial