Story in Harlem Slang

In: English and Literature

Submitted By JYLiveFIve
Words 988
Pages 4
Harlem’s Own Language
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Carole Boyce Davies
Jordan Young
Harlem’s Own Language
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Carole Boyce Davies
Jordan Young

Harlem’s Own Language

“Story in Harlem Slang” by Zora Neale Hurston is written entirely in Harlemese. It contains a three-page appendix, at the end of the story, with the translated slang she used to aid the reader. Harlemese is used to describe things taking place in Harlem and to create a sense that Harlem is its own place, almost a country inside of a country for Blacks. During this time many Blacks believed that living in the North was much better than living in the Jim Crow consumed south. The idea that Zora Neale Hurston centers the story around is the idea that the North is not necessarily better than the South for blacks for various reasons like poverty and other hardships Blacks encountered by “Russian” or running to the North. “Story in Harlem Slang” begins with Jelly who is a pimp. A pimp in Zora Neale Hurston’s slang is a male prostitute. Jelly is all about pleasuring women in exchange for food, money and weed. Because pimping is not easy and it is hard for him to find food Jelly wakes up late to avoid “dirtying plates”. Jelly throws on his zoot suit and heads to the corner where he proceeds to find women to pleasure so he can feed himself and his desire for “scrap-iron” and “reefer” which are liquor and weed respectively. Jelly spots one of his “colleagues” on the street and thinks he can get some weed out of him if he brags about his success on the street correctly to him. His colleague is Sweet Back who is also a Harlem pimp. Sweet Back and Jelly compete with each other for women who bring them business. Jelly and Sweet Back go back and forth trying to outcompete each other. They go on about the women they have gotten with and the…...

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