Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Zora Neale Hurston’s life has been surrounded by questions and controversy. Although Dust Tracks on a Road is Hurston’s official autobiography, many of these questions, especially about her adult life, are not answered in this work. While parts of Hurston’s personality and life will always remain elusive, she has selected certain experiences and images that appear repeatedly in her novels and nonfictional works, most notably in her anthropological work Mules and Men (1935) and in her most famous novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). These experiences and perceptions, many of them written in African American dialect, reappear in Dust Tracks on a Road, her last fully completed work, and disclose much of her personality. Hurston thus reveals much more of herself than she probably intended. While her narration is written in an informal, conversational style, her point of view is definitely feminist—or, according to fellow African American writer Alice Walker, “womanist.” The womanist stance in Hurston’s works became an inspiration and a model for a new generation of African American women writers in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Dust Tracks on a Road begins with the courtship and marriage of Hurston’s parents and ends with Hurston’s move to California in 1940. Her mother, Lucy Potts, was reared in Georgia but left for Florida when she married a penniless “over-the-creek” black man who was not acceptable to her family. Hurston’s father...

(The entire section is 625 words.)