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

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What does Zora Neale Hurston mean by the statement "Slavery is the price I paid for civilization" in her essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me"?

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In order to understand this quote, we need to look at the context in which it was said. Zora Neale Hurston is explaining her identity as a "colored" person and the events which shaped her life and brought her to an awareness of this status based on the color of her skin.

In the paragraph and a half leading up to this quote, Hurston goes to great pains to explain that she is not bitter about what her predecessors, as slaves, went through in order to acquire freedom. Nor is she bitter about her own lot in life.

The words "slavery is the price I paid for civilization" place the struggle for freedom firmly in the past. The writer's focus, in sharp contrast to this, is on the future and everything that it has to offer her.

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Zora Neale Hurston's "How it Feels to be Colored Me" is an exuberant statement about individual identity. As such, Hurston does not want to be weighed down by events or circumstances outside of her control. In the seventh paragraph of her essay , Hurston remarks about the...

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