self-confidence, culture, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes
The theme of “self-confidence” in “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” and “I, Too.”The articles “How It Feels to be Colored Me” by Zora Neale Hurston and “I, Too” by Langston Hughes have numerous and comparative literature aspects where the authors use literal devices such as figurative language and tone to express their views, opinions and attitude about themselves including how they fit in their societies. The two articles widely explore the theme “The Self” in which both authors examine and portray their attitude and feelings about themselves in the society in which they live in. In the articles, self-esteem including how the authors value themselves is clearly depicted throughout the articles. This is very evident in the tone they use to describe themselves and the people around them. The authors’ words give a clear picture of how they feel on their role and fitness in the society.
In this paper, the focus is on the analysis of the topic of self-confidence as portrayed in the articles by the authors. The reason for the choice of “self-confidence” is that self-confidence is a very imperative factor for the success of any endeavor by any human being (Ingleson 2). The analysis clearly illustrates and explain the topic using literal devices and tone as used in the articles as well as how the authors’ used words to express their inners feelings on the self-confidence of their particular situation using Hurston (1) and Hughes (2) as the primary sources. Clear comparative and contrasting nature of the topic and theme of “self-confidence” as portrayed by the two different authors is covered.
The thesis adopted for the paper is that, both authors are very confident of themselves regarding their skin complexion and space in which they fit in the society and that they are very proud of themselves.
To begin, I will start the paper by introducing the two articles and giving a general overview of the authors’ ideas. “How It Feels to be Colored Me” by Zora Neale Hurston talks about how she feels and sees herself in the world that she exists in. Being a descendant of slaves, she does not feel like she is black but instead, she feels like a superior human being not belonging to any particular country but the human race. In the book, she encounters numerous incidences that were supposed to make feels discriminated and disadvantaged but she rather overcomes the feelings and eventually feels that she is who she is, and she is happy with whom she is. At the end of the book, she gives motivates to her readers that they should not feel ashamed or weak for who they are but they should be proud of themselves. Also, she advises her readers to find value in themselves as she did.
The article, “I, Too” by Langston Hughes also talks about perception in which the author views himself as a citizen of America. In the book, the author describes himself as a black fellow how is discriminated but afraid of retaliating to the treatment in which he is undergoing. The author describes that he as a man who when guests visit the house, he is forced to eat in the kitchen. He does feel proud of being black, but he is positive and optimistic that things will change tomorrow, and he will be able to eat in the living room without being discriminated and threatened by anyone. At the end of the book, the author asserts that he too is American, and he can sing the American song. He ends by saying that tomorrow he will be confident about his “color” and others will see the beauty in him.
Comparative elements of self-confidence as portrayed in the articles
The two articles above portray the theme of “The-Self” where both authors express their feelings of who they are. In “How It Feels to be Colored Me”, Hurston clearly expresses her confidence in her skin color asserting the she does not feel different from the white men (Hurston, 4). She is very confident and depicts a sense of high self-esteem in herself. Self-confident can also be seen when she went to the Harlem Night club where she found a white man listening to Jazz music played by the Orchestra. As she was full of self-confidence, she danced to the music very wild and expected the white man to congratulate her but she was puzzled by the white man’s reaction that the music was nice ignoring her dancing abilities. Despite the negative feedback from the white man, Hurston did not feel humiliated or ashamed. Instead, she saw the negative side of the man saying that she was colored, and he was pale white indicating that she was proud of her skin complexion. Throughout the book, Hurston encountered another many incidence of discrimination but none of them put out the fire of self-confidence that was burning inside her.
In the article, she describes how she was brought up in an all-black town and that she attended a Negro school where every student was black. She also describes how other students were hurt because they were black. Nevertheless, Hurston asserts that she was never hurt by the fact that she was black. In fact, she was never bothered about the story of slavery that to her, had died about sixty back. She goes on and gives a metaphor that there was an operation, and the patient is recovering and doing very well. She referred to slavery the operation and black people as the patient. From her experiences and the metaphor she gives, it can be clearly seen that the author had a high sense of pride in her-self (Boyd, 6). However, she occasionally experienced the effects of discrimination in her but fought it with all her strength. This is visible in her tone when she referred to herself as colored.
In “I, Too”, Hughes exploits the theme of “self-confidence” throughout the entire book. The author uses a speaker in the book, who feels discriminated yet he could not face the white people and fight against the negative treatments against him. According to Rampersad (9), this portrayed a low level of self-confidence in the speaker. He should have stood for his rights and fight against the treatments he was undergoing. The speaker also says that “He too was American whether he was a slave or a free man, whether he was of a high class, or whether he was a domestic servant.” His tone portrays the author’s lack of pride for who he was, as a “black” person in America. He goes ahead and gives a metaphor that, He is forced to eat in the kitchen when there is visitor, but he does not complain.
He goes to the kitchen, eat and become healthier, and when tomorrow comes, he will be strong, he will sit at the table, and no one will tell to go and eat in the kitchen. By being forced to eat in the kitchen, he meant that he was forced to work for the guests who were the white men. While ‘eating in the kitchen’ he becomes stronger so that tomorrow he will be strong and eat on the table, meaning that he too would benefit from the advantages that the white men were getting at that time. The author portrays a lack of courage yet he is so optimistic that the coming days he will gain the courage to resist the harsh, cruel treatment that he was undergoing. He does not have self-confidence at the time, but he is looking forward to gather some self-confident in the future. However, the author portrays self-confidence when he starts by asserting that he is an American, and no one can take that from him.
Comparison and Contrast
The two authors have self-confidence in the complexion of their skin and from the black race in which they come from. However, Hughes portrayed a lower level of self-confidence than Hurston in comparison of the two articles. This is quite evident supported by the fact that Hughes could not stand and fight for his rights against discrimination. He also allowed the effects of discrimination and the mentality that he was “black” and weak sink into his heart and mind. He accepted that he was inferior and that the white men were superior.
In contrast, the two authors portray different forms of self-confidence in the articles. According to “How It Feels to Be Colored Too”, Hurston depicts confidence in what she had at that time. She did not rely on the future to gain the courage to fight the effects of discriminations around her. On the other hand, Hughes did not possess a lot of courage at that time but was optimistic that the in the future, he will be a proud American. His pride relied by the improving conditions in the future and not the current situation.
The two articles clearly bring out the theme of “self-confidence”. The author of “How It Feels to be Colored Me” portrays a high degree of self-confidence while the author of “I, Too” depicts a lack of self-confidence. It can also be noted from the two articles that, self-confidence starts with the self-perception and the inner acceptance of an individual. Hurston accepted that she was black but shifted her thoughts and attention to her beauty, and that gave her pride. On the other hand, Hughes focused on the negative thoughts of his life such as being a slave, which lowered his self-confidence and self-esteem. The two articles are perfect examples of different levels of self-confidence and self-esteem in the society.
Boyd, Valerie. Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. 2003, New York: Simon and Schuster publisher. Print
Hughes, Langston. I, Too Sing America. 2014, Routledge publishing company. Print.
Hurston, Zora. How It Feels to Be Colored Me. 2015, Applewood Books. Print
Ingleson, Linda. Secrets of Self-Confidence. 2010, Paragon Publishing. Print
Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume I: 1902-1941, I, Too, Sing America. 2011, Oxford University Press. Print