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Abstract

This thesis speaks about “The Harlem Renaissance”, which is generally believed to have begun in the 1920’s, ending in the late 1930’s just before the Great Depression. During the Harlem Renaissance black people began to express themselves as a distinct culture. This expression took on many different forms; visual arts, music, literature, and theater. There were two general phases of the Harlem Renaissance. The first phase, 1921-1924, was the “Propaganda phase…to reveal the humanity of—and, thereby, validate—the African-American race through the strength of its arts and letters” (West 202). Thus this early stage was to show that blacks were feeling beings, like whites, and they showed this through their artistic abilities. The second phase, 1924-1931, “Connected Harlem writers to white intelligentsia with its access to established publishing companies” (West 202). The key authors of this time were Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright here. Hurston produced a plethora of literary works in her lifetime, including “essays, folklore, short stories, novels, plays, articles on anthropology and autobiography”. Author of the theses makes an analysis of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Her focus isn’t on attaining equality, it is on bettering the arts so that there can be some strong black figures in American society. The second topic of this novel is racism, it’s used very subtly. Instead woven inconspicuously into certain points in the story to help the reader understand why some of the events are unfolding the way they are. The other author, Richard Wright became the most famous African-American writer during the Harlem Renaissance. From his works chose the author of the thesis an analysis of his novel Native Son. Wright is taking the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance one step further by introducing his political and social ideals to his readers. Major themes of Native Son are racism and communism. Both writers had different purposes in writing, despite the fact that they both are seeking respect for black people. Due to these differences the novels are different in terms of characterization, themes and writing style. Though Wright and Hurston have such vastly different views and such vastly different novels and writing styles, they are still working towards a similar goal: to promote and bring understanding to black culture.

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