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

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What figurative language is used in Zora Neale Hurston's How It Feels to Be Colored Me?

In How It Feels to Be Colored Me, Zora Neale Hurston uses a great deal of figurative language to describe her feelings regarding her position in the world as a person of color. In particular, she uses many metaphors, comparisons of two unalike things where one is said to be the other, to convey her feelings and readiness to take on a world that continues to favor whites.

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Hurston declares that she does not "weep at the world" or for her skin color within it, something she claims that many "colored" persons do; rather, she says, "I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife." Presumably, she is not actually sharpening a knife, and so this statement appears to be a metaphor for preparing herself to engage with the world. A metaphor is a comparison of two unalike things where one is said to be the other. Hurston's choice to compare preparing to address the world head-on rather than grieve its state to sharpening a knife indicates that she is unafraid and ready to fight for herself.

She also says that she is "not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes." Here, she uses another metaphor to compare great sorrow to a flood of water, something that would need to be dammed up to be stopped. In the final clause of the quotation, she personifies sorrow as well, ascribing to it the human ability to lurk.

Hurston also describes...

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