"Sweat" and "Gilded Six-Bits" by Zora Neale Hurston: A Closer Look

Essay by sunny09University, Bachelor'sA+, October 2006

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The Harlem Renaissance marked the coming out of many brilliant black authors and thinkers. Names like Jessie Redmon Fauset, Alain Locke, Ralph Waldo Ellison, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston marked the scene. Hurton portrays many messages in her stories without having to explicitly spell it out. This among other reasons make Hurston's writing so rich. Two of her almost fable-like stories, "Sweat" and "The Gilded Six-Bits", each portray powerful messages individually. In "Sweat," you get a message of "whatever goes over the Devil's back, is got to come under his belly." You will reap what you sow among other messages. In "The Gilded Six-Bits," you learn that time will heal, money is the root of all evil, and other morals. These stories individually would seem stories that an elder would pass down to a youth to help them establish principles to live their lives by. As powerful as these stories are when acknowledged individually, when studied together these two stories can tell you much more about Hurston and her writing, her characters and their thoughts, the setting, race, and more.

When you analyze these two stories you find that there are much more similarities than differences.

Eatonville, Florida, the first black self-governed community in the nation, served as the setting for both of Hurton's stories: "Sweat" and "The Gilded Six-Bits." This all-black settlement served as a haven for her character as it provided a way for them to not deal with white America directly. The setting of these stories also helped to establish what a flourishing black culture can become outside of the interference of the white culture. Hurston opposed interference of white culture in black institutions. Hurston said the following in a letter she wrote to the Orlando Sentinel about the 1954 Brown vs. Board...