This study guide will help you analyze Zora Neale Hurston’s essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” from 1928. In addition to help for your analysis, you can find a summary of the text.
Here you can read an extract from our study guide:
Hurston uses several notable metaphors in her essay. For example, she describes her front porch using a metaphor that compares the street to a theater, and the white people to actors:
The front porch might seem a daring place for the rest of the town, but it was a gallery seat for me. My favorite place was atop the gatepost. Proscenium box for a born first-nighter. Not only did I enjoy the show, but I didn't mind the actors knowing that I liked it. (p. 1, ll. 11-13)
This metaphor points to Hurston’s curiosity and enthusiasm and shows that she was always interested in the world beyond her town.
Another metaphor is introduced when Hurston talks about the day she started to see herself as colored:
I left Eatonville, the town of the oleanders, a Zora. When I disembarked from the river-boat at Jacksonville, she was no more. It seemed that I had suffered a sea change. I was not Zora of Orange County any more, I was now a little colored girl. (p. 2, ll. 7-10)
Here, the descriptive language hints at Hurston’s inner changes. The vivid language hints that she only started to see herself as colored because of the perception that white people had about her.
Finally, Hurston uses a metaphor to suggest that all people are created equal, despite the difference in skin tones (p. 4, ll. 7-16). With this metaphor, Hurston encourages diversity and tries to point out that it is a good thing.