Master of Arts (MA)
Religion & Culture / Religious Studies
Faculty of Arts
Zora Neale Hurston was a controversial in the Harlem Renaissance. Her little studied autobiography could be helpful in resolving many of the unanswered questions. However, critical responses have mostly been negative. Critics have questions her portrayal of social reality, particularly black/white relations. If the autobiography is examined in terms of the internal dynamics of the Harlem Renaissance and the political situation of blacks during the Second World War, with special attention paid to the development of Hurston’s religious faith, a different interpretation is possible.
This thesis examines Dust Tracks on a Road as Hurston’s apologia, an autobiographical defense of faith. It is demonstrated that she is responding to those critics who dispute the worldview inherent in her fiction and her documentation of rural southern life. Further, it is asserted that no interpretation of the text is complete without some assessment of her implicit and explicit theological position.
Nevertheless, it is conceded that the book is a failure. Hurston embodied a unique and radical double consciousness that caused her to be extremely marginalized. The autobiography suggests that there is completion and unity in Hurston’s life that is ultimately inconsistent with the elements of her story. Further, Dust Tracks on a Road is isolated from the dominant black autobiographical tradition, which also suggests inconsistency in her account. However, much can still be learned from the book, not only about Hurston, but also Afro-American religion, and the relationship between religion and autobiography.
Hall, James Cameron, "“The Greatest Human Travail”: Faith and the Context of Rhetoric in Zora Neale Hurston’s Dust Tracks on a Road" (1986). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1379.