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

How It Feels to Be Colored Me book cover
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What is the overall tone in Hurston's essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me"? How does Hurston use description to establish her tone and central impression? Which descriptive phrases are especially strong?

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In "How It Feels to be Colored Me," Hurston's tone is upbeat and even defiant. She uses a number of fresh, vivid descriptions to relate how she feels about her identity and her uniqueness. Though other people insist that being black presents overwhelming difficulty, Hurston writes in a particularly strong descriptive passage, "No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife." She uses the metaphor of eating oysters to imply that she is enjoying life, as oysters are a delicacy. By creating the image of sharpening her knife, she injects a note of defiance into the metaphor.

At the end of the essay, she creates the strong vivid image of herself as a brown bag:

But in the main, I feel like a brown bag of miscellany propped against a wall. Against a wall in company with other bags, white, red and yellow. Pour out the contents, and there is discovered a jumble of small things priceless and worthless.

By creating the image of a bag filled with miscellany that is both...

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