Zora Neale Hurston shows the power that words can have throughout all of her works. Gary Cluba’s The Worm against the Word: The Hermeneutical Challenge in Hurston’s Jonah’s Gourd Vine explains some of these instances. By far the most interesting example I read was about the influence that Amy Crittenden’s, John’s mother, word has on John. His whole journey and therefore this novel was heavily influenced by her words. It was her language that swayed the way that John both acted towards and spoke to Ned. It was her words that encouraged John to cross the creek and shut down Ned every time his internalized racism showed. Although I believe that her words where strong it could be argued that it was the power that she had as a mother that caused it all to happen.
Lucy on the other hand represented a quiet authority. John does well in school to impress Lucy because she is the know all in school. They used that knowledge to further woo each other through love letters. Through his journey of winning Lucy over he also furthers himself in the work place. Later in life it is Lucy’s words that save John from destroying his life with his own reckless actions. Then even after her death John calls upon her wishing that she could still provide gentle guidance.
Both the Times Free Press and Florida Theater On Stage articles detail a performance put on by M Ensemble of James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones, a book of poems influenced by traditional African American religious rhetoric. They both make some important points that make you wonder about the role that music plays in the black church. In general music conveys emotion, insights imagination, and triggers memories. Some might even call it a universal language because of peoples ability to infer about a song based on its base elements and structure. African American gospel is meant to attract, unite, and serve as a vessel for spiritual transportation. The songs are simple, easy to learn, and covey a message.
Original I interpreted Death’s Black Train is Coming as a warning telling why you should prepare for death. After reading the articles I’ve come to a different understanding. The moving train represents your life’s journey and the stopped train is death. There are 2 trains, 1 going to heaven (God’s train) and 1 going to hell (the devil’s train). People are all sinners and they are all on the devil’s train until they repent which grants them a ticket onto the morning train (God’s train). So the song is not just a warning of why you should prepare for death it’s a revelation of how to break free from the Devil’s train.