What a Character: Zora Neale Hurston’s Autobiographies
Zora Neale Hurston’s Dust Tracks on a Road is a complicated text that reflects a complicated woman, and one that falls somewhere between the categories of autobiography and biography. While the work cannot be completely discounted as autobiographical, it contains themes surprisingly reminiscent of James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Like Johnson’s autobiography of a fictional man, Hurston’s account contains hard to believe situations that lead readers to question its authenticity and verisimilitude. Additionally, Hurston’s stance on the race issue, a preaching of one view while practicing another, leads to questioning. Further, Dust Tracks on a Road exhibits similarities, sometimes freely admitted by Hurston, to her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God so that a reader begins to question which of Hurston’s texts is the better autobiography. Ultimately, the reader concludes that Dust Tracks on a Road simply displays that Hurston was first and foremost a novelist, and this work tells the “autobiography” of her most successful character -- Zora Neale Hurston.
Amy M. Elliott. "What a Character: Zora Neale Hurston’s Autobiographies" American Women Writers of Color Conference, Salisbury University. Ocean City, MD. Oct. 2001.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/amy_elliott/3