Zora Neale Hurston Short Stories

Zora Neale Hurston is best known for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, but she also wrote many short stories. All of the familiar ones, as well as some previously unpublished stories, are gathered in The Complete Stories. Another large collection of her stories is Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick.

Zora Neale Hurston Short Stories

Here are some Zora Neale Hurston short stories to check out. I hope you find something new.

“John Redding Goes To Sea”

The villagers thought John was an unusual child, and his mother agreed. He was imaginative and prone to day dreams. He’s drawn to the sea, and wants to leave Jacksonville when he grows up. John’s mother is against it but his father is supportive. When the time comes, John is determined to go. While waiting, he meets Stella and unexpectedly gets married, which puts his plans on hold. (Summary)

Read “John Redding Goes to Sea”

“The Gilded Six-Bits”

Joe and Missie, happy newlyweds, live in a modest house in an all-black community. A new man in town, Otis, opens an ice cream parlor, and makes a show of his gold accessories. He talks about his money and his success with women. Joe and Missie’s marriage is put to the test.

“Possum or Pig?”

When pigs start going missing, suspicion falls on the house slave, John. The master makes a surprise visit one night to his cabin, to see what he’s cooking.

“The Fire and the Cloud”

Moses sits on his grave on Mount Nebo. A lizard arrives and talks to him. Moses has been calling forth swarms of flies for the lizard every day. The lizards asks how Moses came to his grave, and how he feels about his journey.

Read “The Fire and the Cloud”

“Drenched in Light”

Isie Watts is a young girl, who, along with her brother, Joel, lives with her grandmother and father. She likes talking to passerby as she sits on her gate, and going places with them. Her grandmother tries to get her to work and be serious. After getting in trouble one day, Isie runs off to a carnival.

Read “Drenched in Light”


Delia’s husband is abusive and a cheater. She supports him by washing clothes. He schemes to get rid of Delia so he can take up with his mistress.

Read “Sweat”

“Conscience of the Court”

A maid, Laura Kimble, is on trial for beating a white man, Clement Beasley. He went to the house of her employer, Mrs. Clairborne, to collect on a loan. Beasley says that when he found her absent and saw the maid packing up the silver he thought Mrs. Clairborne had left town and was sending for her things—things she had put up as collateral for the loan. When he tried to take the furniture, Laura assaulted him.

Read here


A large man, Spunk Banks, is known for being fearless and is admired for it. He openly has a relationship with another man’s wife. The men gathered at the store see them pass by. The cuckolded husband, Joe, comes in and there’s some awkwardness. He says Spunk has gone too far, and he’s going to get his wife back.

Read here

“The Eatonville Anthology”

In fourteen short vignettes we meet some of the residents of Eatonville, Florida. It is a small African-American community. The anecdotes are often humorous, describing the eccentricities, perceptions, crimes, entertainments, and tall-tales of the townspeople.

Read “The Eatonville Anthology”

“Black Death”

Old Man Morgan, a hoodoo practitioner, is well known by the black community in Eatonville. There are many stories of his curses and kills. He’s most renowned for what he did to Beau Diddely, who was stuck on Docia, a chamber-maid, for a while. When things got serious, Beau’s attitude changed.

Read “Black Death”

I’ll keep adding Zora Neale Hurston short stories as I find more.