What might have been some of the "pots" in "Sorrow's Kitchen" for a woman in the Harlem Renaissance?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Hurston would argue that her own experience of "licking the pots in Sorrow's Kitchen" would have come from personal pain and social ostracizing.  These could be seen as universal to any woman during the time period of the Harlem Renaissance.  Hurston points to the pain of losing her own mother prematurely.  In this description, death is seen as a force that haunts all being, a force of Thanatos constantly in pursuit of the force of Eros.  This might be an example of having "licked the pots" in the Kitchen of Sorrow.  Such a condition can apply to so many women in the Harlem Renaissance, women who, for whatever reason, lose touch with their mothers or lose their mothers.  The complex dynamics of race, class, and gender combined with autonomy that is stifled reflects a confused reality, one in which some support is needed.  For women of the time period, to lose touch with mothers and to not have that support of a mother as girls become women in a complex and nuanced world is a moment where the "pots" are "licked" clean in terms of being immersed in pain and hurt.  At the same time, the dynamics of growing up and maturing in a world that is far from defined on one level, yet facing definite levels of stratification on another would be a valence where more "pots" in "Sorrow's Kitchen" reveal themselves.  Hurston's narrative and that of women in the time period reflects complexity, lack of certainty, and a pain that brings about how individuals lack definition, within which pain and hurt result with more "pots" being "licked" as a consequence.

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Dust Tracks on a Road

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