Story in Harlem Slang Essay

977 Words Oct 12th, 2013 4 Pages
Harlem’s Own Language
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Carole Boyce Davies
Jordan Young
Harlem’s Own Language
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Carole Boyce Davies
Jordan Young

Harlem’s Own Language

“Story in Harlem Slang” by Zora Neale Hurston is written entirely in Harlemese. It contains a three-page appendix, at the end of the story, with the translated slang she used to aid the reader. Harlemese is used to describe things taking place in Harlem and to create a sense that Harlem is its own place, almost a country inside of a country for Blacks. During this time many Blacks believed that living in the North was much better than living in the Jim Crow consumed south. The idea that Zora Neale
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While reading I was able to recognize and understand some of the Harlemese used in the story, but still found myself flipping to the back for some words. The uneducated reader of black culture would have trouble comprehending and that is why Zora Neale Hurston included the glossary. This was for the white publishers and readers who she was writing her stories for. Zora Neale Hurston knew that white readers were interested in how what they believed ‘lesser’ people lived. This story gave white readers a safe and comfortable look into Harlem life without every having to set foot in Harlem. Without the glossary the story would have been insignificant to white readers during Zora’s time. This is a well-put together story by Zora Neale Hurston. I feel if Zora Neale Hurston had not decided to write, “Story in Harlem Slang” in Harlemese it would be difficult for the reader to grasp her message and understand daily issues and struggles that people encountered in Harlem. The Harlemese pulls aspects the story together to make the story what it is, a look into the lives of people struggling to make it in Harlem after leaving the South and relocating to the North. In a way this was one of the few times Zora Neale Hurston addressed problems that people of her race encountered. I was surprised of how the story was centered on the street life of Harlem citizens and their struggles. In many of

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