“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Little Bit from Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

In the classic novel it is the middle of the nineteen twenties and Janie Mae Woods is living in the Everglades with her third husband Teacake.  A hurricane is coming, but they don't believe it.  They decide to stay on the "muck" and wait until the storm passes.  Some of the people get together to sing, eat, and boost up their confidence.  This is what they sang:

Yo' Mama don't wear no Draws
Ah seen her when she took 'em Off
She soaked 'em in alcoHol
She sold 'em to Santy Claus
He told her 'twas aganist the Law
To wear dem dirty Draws (157). 

That was so funny I laughed out loud.  It took a while to get used the southern black accent even though my family in Alabama and Arkansas speak the same way. 

I read the First Perennial paperback published in 1990.

While reading The Big Sea By Langston Hughes I learned that Hughes went to Louisiana in 1927 after a flood occurred on the Mississippi River.  Does that sound familiar?  As much as things change they stay the same.  I think that is a paradox.  While he was there he fortuitously ran into Zora Neale Hurston who was collecting stories, music and lies for a folklore society.  I betcha she got the idea for the hurricane in Their Eyes from the flood in 1927.

Some of the things that happened are similar.  In the book and in real life blacks and whites were separated.  In Their Eyes the blacks had to sleep in disgusting quarters full of bedbugs.  The blacks in real life slept in tents with dirt floors. The whites in Their Eyes were buried in coffins, while the black bodies were thrown together into ditches.  In real life whites were transported from the flooded areas in covered boats and the blacks in uncovered crafts that exposed them to the elements.  There is more but you will have to read the books to find out about it.

Hughes's real life account is in the chapter "Flood on the Mississippi."

No comments:

Post a Comment

What's on your mind?