The Aesthetics of Healing in the Sacredness of the African American Female’s Bible: Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain

Vicent Cucarella-Ramon

Abstract

Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939) stands in the tradition of African American use of the biblical musings that aims to relativize and yet uphold a new version of the sacred story under the gaze of a black woman that manipulates and admonishes the characters of the gospel to offer a feminist side of the Bible. The novel discloses Hurston’s mastering of the aesthetics that black folklore infused to the African American cultural experience and her accommodation to bring to the fore the needed voice of black women. Rejecting the role of religion as a reductive mode of social protest, the novel extends its jeremiadic ethos and evolves into a black feminist manifesto in which a world without women equates disruption and instability. Hurston showcases the importance of an inclusive and ethic sacred femininity to reclaim a new type of womanhood both socially and aesthetically. Three decades before the post-colonial era, Hurston’s bold representation of the sacred femininity recasts the jeremiad tradition to pin down notions of humanitarianism, social justice and the recognition of politics of art. All in all, in an era of a manly social protest literature Hurston opts for portraying the folkloric aesthetics of spirituality as creative agency simply to acknowledge the leadership of the sacred femininity that black women could remodel into art.

Keywords

Sacred femininity; Zora Neale Hurston; African American jeremiad; Aesthetics; Healing



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2016.29.04