Zora Neale Hurston—novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist—was known during the Harlem Renaissance for her wit, irreverence, and folk writing style. She won second prize in the 1925 literary contest of the Urban League’s journal, Opportunity, for her short story “Spunk,” which also appeared in The New Negro.
Zora Neale Hurston tells it straight as she saw it in Spunk her first published short story. Hurston was a master as mixing folklore, true-life, and mid-Florida scenery into one mean picture. Did she write of the American experience, or the AfraAmerican Experience? I believe she writes of people neither white nor black, of a certain place and time, and that she goes beyond the limitations of classification. Enjoy the story for the story that is told, and find the connections where you may.
“Ain’t cher? Well, night befo‘ las’ was the fust night Spunk an‘ Lena moved together an’ jus‘ as they was goin’ to bed, a big black bob-cat, black all over, you hear me, black, walked round and round that house and howled like forty, an‘ when Spunk got his gun an’ went to the winder to shoot it he says it stood right still an‘ looked him in the eye, an’ howled right at him. The thing got Spunk so nervoused up he couldn’t shoot. But Spunk says twan’t no bob-cat nohow. He says it was Joe done sneaked back from Hell! ”