“Friendship is a mysterious and ocean-bottom thing”

Anna Lillios

in Crossing the Creek

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780813038094
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041551 | DOI:
“Friendship is a mysterious and ocean-bottom thing”

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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This chapter focuses on all known encounters and communication between Hurston and Rawlings from when they met in 1942 until the latter's death in 1953. It deals with the ambiguity of when and where the two authors met and the true nature of their friendship. Details from other people's accounts of the friendship raise troubling issues. For example, Rawlings' servant at the time, Idella Parker, claims that Rawlings denigrated Hurston by asking her, on an overnight visit, to sleep in the black-only tenant quarters rather than in her farmhouse. Even Hurston's own words in a letter are open to interpretation regarding whether or not she offered to serve as Rawlings' servant when Parker was absent. These incidents raise troubling questions about race and friendship, which the chapter addresses. Nevertheless, Hurston and Rawlings both valued friendship and believed in it as an ideal. Despite the racial, economic, and social barriers between them, they maintained a cordial and supportive friendship throughout their lives.

Keywords: Literary friendship; race; Hurston; Rawlings; Parker

Chapter.  11254 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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