The Road Ahead
The Road Ahead
Hurston's and Rawlings's Last Works
In the 1940s, both Hurston and Rawlings sought to construct their selves in different terms based on new “images of their own creation.” Hurston struggled to find a vehicle with which to express herself: her theater aspirations had led nowhere, she had recorded all of her folklore, and had no new ideas for novels after publishers rejected her proposals. According to Robert Hemenway, “In a sense she was written out.” But, she bravely persevered, turning her attention to writing a biography of Herod the Great. Rawlings, too, struggled with the direction of her work, particularly when a former friend sued her for invasion of privacy. The ensuing trial consumed Rawlings' time, psychic energy, and financial resources for five years, and marked a turn away from her original source material—perhaps, because she was fearful of getting sued again and also because her imaginative life had changed. All the dark events in Hurston's and Rawlings' lives, with time, transformed and “[came] out to the light again.” Rawlings' trial was a battle fought for all authors' freedom of expression. Hurston's insistence that she is not “tragically colored” is an ideal to which we Americans have moved closer. Fiercely independent, strong-willed yet tender-hearted, passionate about literature's ability to understand human nature and to stand as a buffer against the evils of the world, Hurston and Rawlings were women ahead of their time. They found solace and solidarity in each other. As Hurston's last letter suggests, they were each other's best inspiration.
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