Dust Tracks on a Road

by Zora Neale Hurston

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Why does the young Hurston treasure the books the ladies from Minnesota send her?

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She treasures them because they helped set her on the road to becoming a writer. When she was a little girl, Hurston was visited in class by a couple of young white ladies from Minnesota. Along with a group of other children from fifth grade, Nora is chosen to read to the visitors from the Ancient Greek myth of Pluto and Persephone. Some of the other children struggle, and mumble and stumble over their words. But not Zora. She's already familiar with the story having read her reader from cover to cover.

The young ladies are suitably impressed and invite Zora back to their hotel room, where they give her a cylinder, which she later discovers is full of a hundred shiny gold pennies. But that's not all they give her. Because about two months' later they send Zora a box full of clothes and books. Zora likes the clothes, even if they're not new; but it's the books that really tickle her fancy. These are some of the classics of Western literature, books such as Gulliver’s Travels, Grimm's Fairy Tales, and Dick Whittington. As well as giving her enormous pleasure, they introduce Zora to a whole new world in which she can let her imagination run wild.

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