Spunk

by

Zora Neale Hurston

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Themes and Colors
Power and Masculinity Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Legal Justice vs. Moral Justice Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Spunk, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Power and Masculinity

Zora Neale Hurston’s “Spunk” tells the tragic tale of two men and their virulent contest for one woman’s love. The two male characters at the heart of the story—Spunk Banks and Joe Kanty—are positioned as foils to one another when Spunk walks boldly through the neighborhood with Joe’s wife, Lena Kanty. Through these characters, and other men’s reactions to them, Hurston critiques notions of ideal or hegemonic masculinity. Examining the catastrophic consequences…

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Women and Misogyny

Writing during the Harlem Renaissance—an intellectual and artistic black liberation movement that aimed to celebrate black culture and interpret the African American experience in new and positive ways—black women writers like Zora Neale Hurston often felt they had to choose between fighting for the freedom of the black community, or fighting for the rights of women. Amid the context of the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston garnered strong criticism from many of her black peers, who accused…

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Storytelling

Growing up in Eatonville, Orlando, the country’s first incorporated black township, Hurston loved to observe members of the local community sharing stories on from their porches. For Hurston, storytelling and folklore were important traditions that needed to be preserved, and she delighted in encapsulating the rich cultural and linguistic landscape of the rural South through her writing. Many of her stories are set in a town much like Eatonville, where her black characters speak in…

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