Reading Quiz on 'How It Feels to Be Colored Me' by Zora Neale Hurston

A Multiple-Choice Reading Quiz

Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) at a book fair in New York City. (PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

Author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston is best known today for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. A decade earlier she wrote "How It Feels to Be Colored Me"--an essay that might be characterized as both a letter of introduction and a personal declaration of independence.

After you have read Hurston's essay (which appears in our Essay Sampler: Models of Good Writing, Part 3), take this multiple-choice quiz, and then compare your responses with the answers on page two.



  1. Hurston reports that she "lived in the little town of Eatonville, Florida" until she was how old?
    (A) 5 years
    (B) 7 years
    (C) 10 years
    (D) 13 years
    (E) 17 years
  2. According to Hurston, white people would pass through Eatonville on their way to or from what large Florida city?
    (A) Miami
    (B) Orlando
    (C) Tampa
    (D) Jacksonville
    (E) Hialeah
  3. Hurston recalls that when greeting travelers as a child her "favorite place" to perch was atop
    (A) the gatepost
    (B) the horse
    (C) the automobile
    (D) the water barrel
    (E) her brother's shoulders
  4. Hurston interprets her move from Eatonville to Jacksonville as a personal transformation: from "Zora of Orange County" to
    (A) Miss Hurston of the Atlantic Coast
    (B) Zora Neale of Duval County
    (C) a Florida author
    (D) an African-American leader
    (E) a little colored girl
  5. Hurston employs a metaphor to demonstrate that she does not accept the self-pitying role of a victim. What is that metaphor?
    (A) I am the queen of the hill.
    (B) I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.
    (C) I am the leader of the pack.
    (D) I am searching for treasure and digging for gold.
    (E) I am guided by the star--and by a still small voice.
  1. Hurston employs another metaphor to evaluate the effects of slavery ("sixty years in the past") on her life. What is that metaphor?
    (A) One chapter has closed; another has begun.
    (B) That dark road has led to a bright highway.
    (C) The operation was successful, and the patient is doing well.
    (D) That dark night of the soul has been transformed by a glorious sunrise.
    (E) Sobbing ghosts in manacles and chains haunt me wherever I go.
  1. When Hurston recalls sitting in The New World Cabaret, she introduces the metaphor of a wild animal, which "rears on its hind legs and attacks the tonal veil with primitive fury, rending it, clawing it until it breaks through to the jungle beyond." What is she describing with this metaphor?
    (A) a jazz orchestra
    (B) the hatred felt by white people
    (C) the hatred felt by black people
    (D) the street noise of New York City
    (E) race riots in major American cities in the 1920s
  2. According to Hurston, how does her white male companion respond to the music that has affected her so deeply?
    (A) He weeps out of sorrow and joy.
    (B) He says, "Good music they have here."
    (C) He storms out of the club.
    (D) He continues to talk about his stock options, oblivious to the music.
    (E) "Music from hell," he says.
  3. Toward the end of the essay, Hurston refers to Peggy Hopkins Joyce, an American actress known in the 1920s for her lavish lifestyle and scandalous affairs. In comparison to Joyce, Hurston says that she herself is
    (A) just a poor colored woman
    (B) the cosmic Zora . . . the eternal feminine with its string of beads
    (C) an invisible woman, unnoticed by fans and reporters
    (D) a much more talented actress
    (E) far more respectable
  1. In the final paragraph of the essay, Hurston compares herself to
    (A) the Great Stuffer of Bags
    (B) the ringmaster at a circus
    (C) an actor in a play
    (D) a brown bag of miscellany
    (E) a beacon light of truth.

Here are the answers to the Reading Quiz on "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" by Zora Neale Hurston.

 

  1. (D) 13 years
  2. (B) Orlando
  3. (A) the gatepost
  4. (E) a little colored girl
  5. (B) I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.
  6. (C) The operation was successful, and the patient is doing well.
  7. (A) a jazz orchestra
  8. (B) He says, "Good music they have here."
  9. (B) the cosmic Zora . . . the eternal feminine with its string of beads
  1. (D) a brown bag of miscellany