Why does Hurston use question marks the way she does in "How It Feels to Be Colored Me"?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a few occasions near the end of "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" in which Hurston uses question marks to signal rhetorical questions.  The use of rhetorical questions is a writing strategy that authors use to get the reader to consider a point of view.  Rhetorical questions are not meant to be answered directly, and usually the answer is implied by the writing surrounding the question.  For example, the last line of Hurston's essay reads:  

Perhaps that is how the Great Stuffer of Bags filled them in the first place--who knows?

Here, Hurston uses the rhetorical question to get the reader to consider the extended metaphor she has just posed regarding people of different races sharing essentially human qualities, traits, and characteristics.  The phrase "who knows?" leads the reader to ponder the intentions of the "Great Stuffer of Bags" (i.e. God or the Creator).  The writing suggests that the reader adopt Hurston's line of reasoning that the Creator made all humans essentially the same and that race is just a construct people have created and used to divide and control each other.  So, Hurston's use of question marks (i.e. rhetorical questions) is a technique used to guide the interpretation of the reader.

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How It Feels to Be Colored Me

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