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

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Analyze the rhetoric in “How it Feels to be Colored Me” by Zora Neale Hurston.

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Although rhetoric as a style of writing has gained many meanings since it was first defined by the ancient Greeks circa 600 BC, a couple of its qualities remain consistent: rhetoric is a type of writing or an art that orates or performs before a real or imagined audience, and its aim is to persuade that audience of its claims. Both these qualities of rhetoric are clearly visible in Zora Neale Hurston’s autobiographical essay “How It Feels to be Colored Me” (1928). In the essay, Hurston is addressing her audience of readers to make a joyful declaration of her identity as a "colored," or black, American woman. There are performative aspects to this declaration from the onset, both in tone and subject. Note how her powerful opening statement, rich in humor and irony , immediately hooks our attention: “I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances.” A powerful opening designed to grip the listener is a staple of effective rhetorical performance. We see...

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