In the short story "How it feels to be Colored Me," describe the author's perspective of contrast between black and white approaches to achieving things in life.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Zora Neale Hurston's invites the reader to experience her way of life. She is not troubled by being "Colored" and sees her identity as a point of pride. She values herself and has passion for the great experiences around her, including jazz music. Most of the "white" characters in this story may be seen as a bit shallow--enjoying entertainment but not looking past the moment. We can see this as the white man comments on the jazz tune.

The white travelers from the North are a source of curiosity for Zora, and, unlike her family, she entertains them and gets rewarded with silver.

The white people in this story see Zora as a novelty, but it is not apparent that Zora is appreciated for her talents. Zora acknowledges the injustice faced by her race, but she views this as a sacrifice made by her ancestors. Zora feels like a "colored person" because society imposes this view on her through isolation. Zora shows little interest in the fragmentation that comes with identifying herself as an African American.

Zora reminds the reader that we are all more alike than different because we have been created by the same God, and implies that pride in oneself is a source of strength that can help anyone overcome the superficial obstacles society places in front of us.

White people, in Zora's story, may seem to be carefree while black people are coming to terms with discrimination and other forms of injustice, but Zora's ability to accept her identity challenges the assumption that everyone within a given race will view the world according to the worldview of their group.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial