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In the passage, Dust Tracks on a Road, the author describes her childhood not only through her own eyes, but also through the eyes of her mother and father. She uses different devices to depict the overall feeling of her youth, and although there are several conflicts that keep the author’s adolescence from being perfect, she has an overall happy and rewarding life at home. Through diction and manipulation of point of view, Zora Neale Hurston conveys not only a sense of a plentiful and satisfying childhood within the bounds of her home, but also a childhood restricted by fears of the outside world and the future that was part of it.

The author uses devices such as irony, metaphors, and imagery to give the reader a better understanding of her happy yet confined childhood. “We lived on a big piece of ground with two big chinaberry trees shading the front gate and Cape jasmine bushes with hundreds of blooms on either side of the walks. I loved the fleshy, white, fragrant blooms as a child but did not make too much of them.” Hurston uses the word “big” to describe the amount of space she had in her yard and she also uses the words “fleshy” and “white” to describe their appearance. The use of these words gives the reader an image of the objects or places described. “When I got to New York and found out that the people called them gardenias, and that the flowers cost a dollar each, I was impressed.” The author at first thinks that the gardenias are too common, but when she learns of their value to others, she begins to appreciate their growth. This is an example of how irony is used in a situation. It takes someone else’s opinion to get her to stop taking for granted the things that are close to her. Zora goes on to tell of how her mother always defended her from her father whenever he would try to change her personality. “Papa always flew hot when Mama said that.” “Flew hot” is used as a metaphor to mean that her father got very angry whenever her mother would make a particular comment regarding to Zola’s attitude. “Posses with ropes and guns were going to drag me out sooner or later on account of that stiff neck I toted.” Another example of how a metaphor is used to aid in the readers comprehension of her childhood, is how the author uses “stiff neck” to portray her own stubbornness.

Zora Neale Hurston had a childhood filled with plenty of laughter, love and food. Her family was never low on things to eat, for they were “never hungry.” They sometimes had such an abundance of food, that “any left-over boiled eggs could always be used for missiles.” She also states that they “had oranges, tangerines and grapefruit to use as handgrenades on the neighbor’s children.” Her family never had to worry about food, for they seemed to have so much that it could even be used as a weapon. “There were eight children in the family, and our house was noisy from the time school turned out until bedtime.” The author does not imply that this was a bad noise, for it was actually a noise full of fun and games. Zora, her brothers, and sisters had a great time just playing in the back yard, making as much noise as possible.

Zora’s mother and father both care about their children, especially Zora, but each of them has a very different view on how to protect them. “Mama carried us all past long division in arithmetic, and parsing sentences in grammar, by diagrams on the blackboard.” The author’s mother is a very loving mother who cares enough about her children that she schools them from home to make sure that they at least get some form of education. Her mother did not want her children to leave the house their house often, fore she felt that they were safe inside and did not want them exposed to pain of the outside world. She states that she does not want any children who are “no-count Negroes and poor white trash�too poor to sit in the house�had to come outdoors for any pleasure, or hang around somebody else’s house.” Zora’s mother also tried to encourage her children to be anything that they wanted to be. “Mama extorted her children at every opportunity to “jump at de sun.” This means that she wanted them to have dreams and goals and to reach for them the best that they could. Zora’s father is very protective over his children as well. “It did not do for Negroes to have too much spirit.” He didn’t think that African-Americans should have so much spirit that they would stand up for what they believe in because this would upset a white person. He fears this because Zola frequently stands up for herself and he worries that she will one day stand up to the wrong person and get herself hurt. “He predicted dire things for me. The white folks were not going to stand for it.” The author states that her father dreaded the day that Zora would go too far with her mouth and would get herself seriously hurt, or even killed. He would get angry at her mother because she “didn’t want to ‘squinch my spirit’ too much for fear that I would turn out to be a mealy-mouthed rag doll.” Hurston explains that since her mother wouldn’t stop her from talking back, her father claimed “mama was going to suck sorrow for not beating my temper out of me before it was too late.” Though both parents’ love and care about Zora equally, except that they each have a different way of showing it.


Dust Tracks on a Road, written by Zora Neale Hurston, illustrates the author’s childhood by using different forms of diction as well as manipulating the point of view. Hurston’s life was full of flowers, food, and plenty of children to play and have fun with. She always had something to do and someone to do it with; therefore her life was never boring. She had a nice childhood, filled with love and care from both parents. Her mother would rather protect her by hiding her from the outside world, where as her father would rather break her of her “sassy tongue” so there would be no worry of her getting hurt. Despite Zora’s youth being confined by the walls of her home and the fence of her backyard, she truly had a very loving and fulfilling childhood.

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