‘Spunk’ by Zora Neale Hurston

Hurston, Zora Neale 1925

Spunk by Zora Neale Hurston, 1925

The magic trick:

Telling almost the entire story through the viewpoint of the town general store gossip

“Spunk” is a great ghost story set in Hurston’s beloved Eatonville, Florida. The beauty of it is the way we really only get the story from the point of view of the town gossip. The text is set in the local general store, even as the most significant action – and there is plenty of significant action – is not. We hear about what happens only through what the locals have to say about it. As a result the town becomes the main character in a way. Certainly the fight between Joe and Spunk doesn’t feel isolated just to their own personalities or characters. It’s a fight and haunting the whole town has a hand and say in. And that’s quite a trick on Hurston’s part.

The selection:

“You oughtn’t to said whut you did to him, Lige—look how it worked him up,” Walter chided.

“And Ah hope it did work him up. ‘Tain’t even decent for a man to take and take like he do.”

“Spunk will sho’ kill him.”

“Aw, Ah doan’t know. You never kin tell. He might turn him up an‘ spank him fur gettin’ in the way, but Spunk wouldn’t shoot no unarmed man. Dat razor he carried outa heah ain’t gonna run Spunk down an‘ cut him, an’ Joe ain’t got the nerve to go up to Spunk with it knowing he totes that Army 45. He makes that break outa heah to bluff us. He’s gonna hide that razor behind the first likely palmetto root an‘ sneak back home to bed. Don’t tell me nothin’ ’bout that rabbit-foot colored man. Didn’t he meet Spunk an‘ Lena face to face one day las’ week an‘ mumble sumthin’ to Spunk ‘bout lettin’ his wife alone?”

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