Between Cape jasmine bushes and chinaberry trees, Zora Neale Hurston's childhood, was a warm sweet memory illustrated in an extract of Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography. In this excerpt, diction and point of view jump from the page to give the reader a lucid and realistic view of life "down there" in the farm, sheltered from society to protect the plentiful love, food and company of the Hurston home, compared to "way up north" where "rare" apples are abundant and gardenias are sold for a dollar, but where reality is a universal cry for equality and justice. Hurston's juxtaposition of these two environments compliments her parents' idealistic differences when it comes to raising their children. Metaphorical language, separation, position and repetition of words; flowers, fruit and struggle imagery create an atmosphere of home-like neighborhood versus the world outside the chinaberry trees. At the beginning of this piece, we are quickly introduced to the different lifestyles between the farm she lived in and the one she encountered when she left to New York. Easily distinguished is the contrast made by the use of the word "folks" when she mentions her relatives from "down under" but calls the New Yorkers "people." The North is seen as a literature archetype as an unknown lucrative place, a strange place where "the flowers cost a dollar each." This is positioned as a welcome mat to a world of differences between these two environments, which leads us to the core of her childhood life.
In "the big piece of ground," the Hurston created for their 8 children a semi-isolated land of abundance and fertility. Imagery of flowers, blossoms, eggs and fruits are impregnated in the passage portraying growth and fertility in which Hurston flourishes as a young "sassy" girl. The repetition of the word "plenty" implements this picture of abundance and satisfaction; Mama indicates that there is "plenty of space to play in, plenty of things to play with, and plenty of us to keep each other company" indicating her purpose to keep the family united and protected under an umbrella of self-fulfillment. Mama served, in a way as Mother Nature: nurturing, teacher and even lawyer when needed.
She says "all good traits and leanings come from the mother's side" demonstrating the level of appreciation she has for her mother, and the recognition of goodness involved in her actions. Mother also insisted that her kids should "jump at de sun" of possibilities; she believed that the outside could also be a world of opportunities. She lived in a world where eggs and oranges could be used as hand grenades against the world outside the "Bermuda grass," but treasured the foreignism of an apple and its relative the beef. These two were brought by Papa, who was the only connection with the outside world inside the family.
He was much more "realistic" than Mama, but was feared by young Hurston; this is emphasized by the repetition of the word "fear" and struggling imagery such as "kill, battle, hung, blow me down, beating, ropes and guns." However, even though this might give us the idea that Papa was a negative figure to her life, we must emphasize the fact that Papa also wanted to create a safe environment for the children; he was concerned about Hurston's future and her behavior. He was also the one who brought the treasured apples and the rare meat like small tastes of life outside the barn. Through diction and point of view, Zora Neale Hurston puts in contrast the two parallel environments lived by her parents and their effects on their ideals, who wanted to protect and cherish their children from outside cruelties, inside the chinaberry trees.