30 best Zora Neale Hurston Short Stories:
As an ardent admirer of literature, I am of course proud to have read and re-read and read again the many short stories by Zora Neale Hurston. Zora Neale Hurston wrote what can only be described as a treasure trove of short stories which captures the essence of being an African American.
Each of her short stories focus on and dive into the world of being a black woman in America and the experiences that her characters faces resonate deeply with the real world. It also showcases her unparalleled storytelling prowess and her skills in portrayal of such depth through her words. In this article, we embark on a journey through the life, works and short stories authored by Zora Neale Hurston. We shall of course list down and explore the depth and significance of her notable short stories.
About Zora Neale Hurston:
Zora Neale Hurston was born in Alabama and raised in the vibrant town of Eatonville, Florida. Zora Neale Hurston’s upbringing and her deep connection to her roots and cultural heritage shaped her literary voice and fueled her passion for storytelling. She can be described as an influential figure of the Harlem Renaissance and her impact on African American literature is undeniable. Through her captivating narratives and insightful observations, she shed light on the multifaceted nature of the African American experience during the 1920s and 1930s.
30 best Zora Neale Hurston Short Stories:
This is by no means an exhaustive list and Zora Neale Hurston has written a more stories that are not included here. This list represents 30 of the best short stories authored by her!
“Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat” delves into the gripping struggles of Delia, a hardworking washerwoman, as she confronts the abusive actions of her husband, Sykes. Set in the early 20th century, the story explores themes of domestic violence, resilience, and empowerment. Delia’s unwavering determination to overcome her hardships and reclaim her independence resonates deeply, making “Sweat” a poignant portrayal of the strength and resilience of African American women.
“The Gilded Six-Bits” transports readers to a small Florida town where Joe and Missie May’s seemingly idyllic marriage is tested by temptation and forgiveness. Hurston masterfully captures the complexities of love, trust, and reconciliation within a marriage. Through vivid descriptions and rich characterization, the story offers a poignant examination of human nature, the power of forgiveness, and the complexities of relationships.
In “Spunk,” Hurston weaves a tale of jealousy, revenge, and the supernatural. Set in a tight-knit community, the story revolves around the romantic entanglements between Joe, Lena, and Spunk. As tensions rise and emotions boil over, an otherworldly presence adds a chilling twist. Through atmospheric storytelling and vibrant characters, Hurston explores themes of pride, fear, and the consequences of unchecked emotions.
“The Eatonville Anthology” is a collection of short stories that paint a vivid picture of Eatonville, a town deeply rooted in African American culture and folklore. Through a series of interconnected narratives, Hurston captures the essence of community life, struggles, and triumphs. Each story provides a glimpse into the lives of the town’s residents, showcasing their resilience, dreams, and challenges. The anthology serves as a celebration of Eatonville’s unique heritage and the vibrant spirit of its inhabitants.
Inspired by a real-life court case, “The Conscience of the Court” explores racial tensions and discrimination. The story follows a young girl, Laura Lee Kimble, as she faces prejudice within the legal system. Hurston’s keen observations shed light on the injustices faced by African Americans in the early 20th century. Through Laura’s journey, the story raises important questions about fairness, equality, and the struggle for justice in a society plagued by racial bias.
“Drenched in Light” transports readers to the vibrant landscape of the Harlem Renaissance, immersing them in the journey of Isis Watts, a young woman seeking artistic fulfillment and self-discovery. Hurston’s lyrical prose vividly captures the spirit of the era, while exploring themes of identity, ambition, and the pursuit of dreams. Through Isis’s personal and artistic growth, the story celebrates the power of self-expression and the transformative nature of art.
“The Back Room” offers a glimpse into the social dynamics and cultural practices within a rural African American community. Hurston’s sharp wit and humor shine through as the story unfolds, depicting lively conversations and the lively interactions between characters. Through this portrayal, Hurston sheds light on the resilience, camaraderie, and traditions that shape the fabric of African American communities.
“Story in Harlem Slang” immerses readers in the vibrant atmosphere of Harlem, capturing its unique language, rhythm, and energy. Hurston skillfully incorporates Harlem’s distinctive slang and dialect to paint a vivid picture of the community. The story follows two friends as they navigate the complexities of love, friendship, and the pursuit of happiness. Through its linguistic richness and authentic portrayal, “Story in Harlem Slang” celebrates the spirit and creativity of Harlem’s inhabitants.
“The Book of Harlem” is a treasured collection of short stories that unveils a tapestry of life in Harlem. From joyous celebrations to profound struggles, Hurston’s stories portray the triumphs and challenges faced by African American individuals and communities. Through diverse characters and nuanced narratives, the collection captures the essence of Harlem’s vibrant culture, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of its residents.
“Muttsy” is a heartwarming tale that celebrates the unconditional love and loyalty between a young girl and her faithful canine companion. Through the bond between the protagonist and her dog, Hurston explores themes of loyalty, companionship, and the profound connection between humans and animals. With tenderness and warmth, “Muttsy” reminds readers of the profound impact that love and compassion can have on our lives.
In “Sweat and Blood,” Zora Neale Hurston explores the intertwining themes of labor, perseverance, and the human spirit. The story delves into the lives of hardworking individuals, highlighting the challenges they face and the sacrifices they make in their pursuit of a better life. Through vivid descriptions and poignant characterizations, Hurston sheds light on the struggles and triumphs of everyday people, reminding readers of the indomitable strength found within the human heart.
“John Redding Goes to Sea” is a captivating tale that follows the protagonist, John Redding, as he embarks on a transformative journey. Set against the backdrop of the sea, the story explores themes of adventure, self-discovery, and the pursuit of one’s dreams. Through John Redding’s experiences, Hurston illuminates the transformative power of exploration and the profound impact it can have on an individual’s perspective and growth.
In “The Fire and the Cloud,” Hurston weaves a thought-provoking narrative that delves into themes of spirituality and divine intervention. The story follows characters who encounter a mysterious fire and cloud, which lead them on a path of introspection and revelation. Through vivid imagery and evocative symbolism, Hurston explores the profound connection between humanity and the divine, challenging readers to reflect on the spiritual dimensions of their own lives.
“Now Take Nanny”:
“Now Take Nanny” is a compelling story that examines the complexities of mother-daughter relationships and the power dynamics within families. Through the character of Nanny, Hurston delves into themes of sacrifice, identity, and the search for autonomy. The story explores the challenges faced by Nanny as she navigates the tension between her own desires and the expectations placed upon her. Through her struggles, Hurston offers a nuanced portrayal of the intricate bonds between mothers and daughters.
“Possum or Pig” is a humorous and light-hearted tale that showcases Hurston’s wit and storytelling prowess. The story revolves around a lively debate among characters over the true identity of a mysterious meat dish. Through playful banter and vivid descriptions, Hurston captures the essence of community dynamics and the art of storytelling itself. With its engaging dialogue and comedic elements, “Possum or Pig” offers readers a delightful and entertaining reading experience.
In “Mother Catherine,” Hurston paints a powerful portrait of resilience and the strength of maternal love. The story follows the protagonist, Mother Catherine, as she navigates the challenges of raising her children in the face of adversity. Hurston explores themes of sacrifice, determination, and the unwavering bond between a mother and her children. Through Mother Catherine’s experiences, readers are reminded of the profound impact that a mother’s love and guidance can have on shaping the lives of her offspring.
“Crocodile Wine” is a unique and imaginative story that transports readers to a world where mythical creatures and everyday life intertwine. Hurston’s vibrant storytelling breathes life into the characters and settings, inviting readers on a captivating journey. Through the fusion of reality and fantasy, the story explores themes of curiosity, exploration, and the human desire for adventure. “Crocodile Wine” serves as a reminder of the limitless possibilities that lie beyond the realm of the ordinary.
In “Moses, Man of the Mountain,” Hurston reimagines the biblical figure of Moses within an African American context. The story delves into themes of faith, identity, and the pursuit of freedom. Through Moses’ journey, Hurston explores the complexities of leadership and the challenges faced by those who dare to challenge the status quo. With its vivid imagery and powerful symbolism, “Moses, Man of the Mountain” offers readers a fresh perspective on an iconic biblical character.
“The Mule-Bone” is a collaborative work by Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes that explores themes of friendship, rivalry, and community dynamics. The story follows two friends, Jim and Dave, whose friendship is tested when they both lay claim to the same mule bone. Through lively dialogue and sharp wit, Hurston and Hughes create a vibrant narrative that reflects the nuances of human relationships and the power of forgiveness.
“The Bone of Contention” delves into the complexities of human nature and the consequences of greed. The story revolves around a coveted bone that becomes a source of conflict among characters. Hurston weaves a suspenseful narrative, exploring themes of jealousy, selfishness, and the destructive power of material desires. Through its engaging plot and thought-provoking themes, “The Bone of Contention” serves as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of unchecked ambition and the importance of valuing human connections over material possessions.
“Lawing and Jawing” is a lively and humorous short story that showcases Zora Neale Hurston’s talent for storytelling. Set in a small community, the narrative revolves around a spirited debate between two characters known for their skillful arguments. Through witty dialogue and colorful descriptions, Hurston captures the essence of oral tradition and the art of persuasion. “Lawing and Jawing” explores themes of community dynamics, the power of words, and the importance of having a strong voice.
“The Death of John Smith”:
“The Death of John Smith” is a poignant and thought-provoking story that delves into themes of identity, loss, and the complexities of human existence. The narrative follows the protagonist, John Smith, as he grapples with his own mortality and reflects on the meaning of life. Through introspective prose and vivid imagery, Hurston invites readers to contemplate the fleeting nature of time and the profound impact that one individual can have on the lives of others.
In “Voodoo in Haiti,” Hurston provides a fascinating glimpse into the mystical world of Haitian Vodou. The story offers an immersive exploration of the rituals, beliefs, and cultural practices associated with Vodou. Through meticulous research and firsthand experiences, Hurston sheds light on the complex intersection of spirituality, history, and folklore. “Voodoo in Haiti” invites readers to broaden their understanding of Haitian culture and challenges common misconceptions about Vodou.
“Monkey Junk” is a lively and entertaining tale that showcases Hurston’s ability to infuse humor into her storytelling. The story revolves around a mischievous monkey and the chaos it creates within a community. Through vivid descriptions and comedic situations, Hurston captures the absurdity of human behavior and the unpredictability of life. “Monkey Junk” serves as a reminder to embrace the joy and spontaneity found in everyday moments.
“De Turkey and De Law” is a satirical story that cleverly addresses issues of race and social injustice. Through a humorous and allegorical narrative, Hurston confronts the racial dynamics of the time, using animal characters to explore power imbalances and the consequences of inequality. “De Turkey and De Law” invites readers to reflect on the complexities of race relations and serves as a reminder of the importance of equality and justice.
“That’s Why the Darkies Were Born” is a provocative and controversial piece that reflects the racial attitudes prevalent during Hurston’s time. The story explores the history of racial stereotypes through the lens of a popular song. Hurston’s intention was to challenge and subvert these stereotypes by highlighting the absurdity and ignorance behind them. “That’s Why the Darkies Were Born” prompts readers to critically examine the harmful effects of racial prejudice and serves as a testament to Hurston’s bold and unapologetic storytelling.
“High John de Conqueror” is a richly symbolic story rooted in African American folklore and mythology. The narrative revolves around the mythical figure of High John, who represents resilience, cunning, and the indomitable spirit of enslaved Africans. Through vivid storytelling and evocative imagery, Hurston celebrates the strength and resourcefulness of marginalized communities. “High John de Conqueror” serves as a testament to the power of folklore and its ability to empower and inspire.
“Dust Tracks on a Road” (autobiographical work):
“Dust Tracks on a Road” is an autobiographical work by Zora Neale Hurston that chronicles her journey from a small Southern town to becoming a renowned writer and anthropologist. The narrative offers a candid and introspective exploration of Hurston’s personal experiences, struggles, and triumphs. Through vivid descriptions and heartfelt reflections, Hurston invites readers to accompany her on a journey of self-discovery, highlighting the importance of embracing one’s unique voice and identity.
“The Country in the Woman” is a powerful and lyrical story that explores the interconnectedness between individuals and their ancestral roots. Hurston delves into themes of cultural heritage, identity, and the enduring presence of the past. Through poetic language and evocative descriptions, she captures the essence of the human experience and the profound impact that heritage and tradition can have on shaping one’s identity.
“Hoodoo in America” is a comprehensive exploration of the practice of hoodoo, an African American folk magic tradition. Hurston delves into the history, beliefs, and rituals associated with hoodoo, shedding light on its cultural significance and enduring presence within African American communities. Through meticulous research and firsthand accounts, Hurston presents a nuanced and authentic portrayal of this often-misunderstood tradition, dispelling myths and misconceptions along the way. “Hoodoo in America” invites readers to appreciate the richness and complexity of African American folklore and spiritual practices.
Zora Neale Hurston’s short stories continue to captivate readers with their insightful narratives, vibrant characters, and exploration of African American culture and experiences. Her works shed light on the complexities of human relationships, identity, and the power of storytelling. By delving into the rich legacy of Zora Neale Hurston’s short stories, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the African American literary tradition and appreciate the enduring impact of her contributions to American literature.