Rereading Zora Neale Hurston through the lens of "What white publishers won't print".
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Davis, Christy D.
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During Zora Neale Hurston’s life, she wrote many controversial statements on race. Scholars continually suggest that Hurston was merely pandering to the white nation or tricking her audience. By using Hurston’s own explanation of “What White Publishers Won’t Print,” I examine the constraints and expectations put on Hurston’s writing. Hurston was expected to write stories about the exceptional Negroes who rise to success. While Hurston appears to write stories about the exceptional, the idea of the exceptional is undermined through her essay “The Pet Negro System.” Her characters are exceptional only because they are someone else’s pet. Thus, Hurston emphasizes the importance of relationship over race and exceptionality throughout Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Dust Tracks on a Road, and Seraph on the Suwannee.