Barracoon

by

Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston Character Analysis

The book’s author and one of its narrators, an intrepid anthropologist who interviews Cudjo and reports his life story. Hurston is herself a budding intellectual trying to make a name for herself, and will soon become an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance. In this regard, she seems cognizant of the potential career benefits of bringing Cudjo’s story to light and sometimes behaves calculatingly towards him, bringing gifts of food in order to ingratiate herself and at one point instructing him to write a letter of thanks to the wealthy woman who is funding her anthropological research. At the same time, Hurston is sympathetic to Cudjo and deeply moved by his story, sometimes moved to tears herself and often withdrawing when she senses he’s exhausted from retelling previous stories. In her faithfulness to Cudjo’s dialect she evinces a deep belief that his story is inherently valuable and deserving of a place in American literature and history. By the end of the interview process, she has come to see Cudjo as more of a friend than an interview subject.

Zora Neale Hurston Quotes in Barracoon

The Barracoon quotes below are all either spoken by Zora Neale Hurston or refer to Zora Neale Hurston . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Amistad edition of Barracoon published in 2018.
Introduction Quotes

All these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold. The Kings and Captains whose words moved ships. But not one word from the cargo. The thoughts of the “black ivory,” the “coin of Africa,” had no market value. Africa’s ambassadors to the New World have come and worked and died, and left their spoor, but no recorded thought.

Related Characters: Zora Neale Hurston (speaker)
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

When he came out I saw that he had put on his best suit but removed his shoes. “I want to look lak I in Affica, ‘cause dat where I want to be,” he explained.

He also asked to be photographed in the cemetery among the graves of his family.

Related Characters: Zora Neale Hurston (speaker), Kossula / Cudjo Lewis
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

I had spent two months with Kossula, who is called Cudjo, trying to find the answers to my questions. Some days we ate great quantities of clingstone peaches and talked […] At other times neither was possible, he just chased me away. He wanted to work in his garden or fix his fences. He couldn’t be bothered.

Related Characters: Zora Neale Hurston (speaker), Kossula / Cudjo Lewis
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

When I crossed the bridge, I know he went back to his porch; to his house full of thoughts. To his memories of fat girls with ringing golden bracelets, his drums that speak the minds of men, to palm-nut cakes and bull-roarers, to his parables.

Related Characters: Zora Neale Hurston (speaker), Kossula / Cudjo Lewis
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Barracoon LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Zora Neale Hurston Character Timeline in Barracoon

The timeline below shows where the character Zora Neale Hurston appears in Barracoon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Zora Neale Hurston begins her introduction, which gives some background information on Cudjo’s story, by declaring that “the... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
Hurston first meets Cudjo in 1927, when her mentor, the anthropologist Franz Boas, dispatches her to... (full context)
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
Having done her research, Hurston sets out to find Cudjo, a man who calls himself “the tree of two woods.”... (full context)
Chapter 1
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
It’s summer when Hurston first arrives at Cudjo’s house. She knows he’s at home because his gate is unlocked;... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...and cheerful now; his garden is planted, and he has several fruit trees growing well. Hurston explains that she has come to talk to him, but Cudjo says he doesn’t care... (full context)
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
...Cudjo returns his attention to her, saying that sometimes he can’t help crying from loneliness. Hurston asks how he is feeling, and he responds that “I thank God I on praying... (full context)
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
...that his people “ain’ ignant – we jes doan know.” He asks if that’s all Hurston wants to know. (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Hurston responds that she wants to know many things, from Cudjo’s captivity to his life as... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Worried that Cudjo is getting distracted, Hurston interrupts that she wants to hear about his life, not his grandfather’s. With an expression... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Finishing this anecdote, Cudjo looks across his thriving garden to his daughter-in-law’s house. Hurston feels that he has forgotten she is there. Eventually, he tells the man sitting beside... (full context)
Chapter 2
The American Dream Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The next time Hurston visits Cudjo, she brings a basket of peaches. Cudjo’s great-granddaughters arrive at the same time,... (full context)
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
Coming another day, Hurston brings a bottle of insect repellant. This time, Cudjo is eager to talk to her,... (full context)
Chapter 3
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Hurston notes that Cudjo now has “that remote look in his eyes,” and she knows that... (full context)
Chapter 4
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Hurston stays away for a week, worrying the whole time that Cudjo won’t see her again.... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Hurston asks Cudjo if any women are infertile, but Cudjo says if anyone has trouble conceiving,... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...the house and tell them stories about the animals, who used to talk like people. Hurston expresses interest in these stories, but Cudjo says he will tell them another time. (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Hurston asks Cudjo about the practice of juju, which he’s mentioned before. Seeming “reluctant,” Cudjo says... (full context)
Chapter 5
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Cudjo stops talking, and Hurston says it feels that he’s no longer with her but “squatting about that fire in... (full context)
Chapter 6
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
The next Saturday, Hurston visits Cudjo but he doesn’t have time to talk to her, saying that he has... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
On Monday, Hurston returns. She tells him about “the nice white lady in New York who was interested... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Cudjo stops speaking and tells Hurston he’s tired of talking, and that she has to go home. He spends so much... (full context)
Chapter 7
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...still remembers all the landings on the boat’s route, and he recites them all for Hurston. Even though he hasn’t been to most of these places since 1865, he thinks he... (full context)
Chapter 8
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
...build their own church, which is still standing today. Concluding his story thus, Cudjo sends Hurston away for the day. (full context)
Chapter 9
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
The next day, Hurston drives Cudjo to the bay to eat crabs. On the way, he begins to talk... (full context)
Chapter 11
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...some friends of Cudjo’s catch many crabs, which they all share. On the way home, Hurston buys some melons and leaves them with Cudjo. He tells her to come back the... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
At the end of this session, Hurston asks permission to take Cudjo’s photograph. Three days later, she comes back with a camera.... (full context)
Chapter 12
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
By this time, Hurston has spent two months with Cudjo. Some days they eat a lot of fruit without... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
Leaving Cudjo’s house, Hurston turns back to see him standing at the edge of his land. Driving on the... (full context)