Zora Neale Hurston enriches her readers" sense of her childhood through her descriptive diction and her skillful manipulation of point of view, giving readers the allusion that her childhood was a self-contained paradise full of riches and opportunities, but at the same time hinting at an ominous outside world.
Hurston's choice of words, such as the repetition of "big" and "plenty", give readers the idea of grandeur and copiousness. There was always an abundance of food, always "plenty of orange, grapefruit, tangerine, guavas and other fruits" in the Hurstons" yard, and always chicken and eggs on their table. In fact, there was such a surplus of food that the children could use the eggs as missiles and oranges as hand grenades to play with. Despite all that the Hurstons have within their reach, however, references to beef stew and apples reflected the limitations of their paradisiacal home and Hurston's curiosity of the unknown world around them. .
Hurston's mother provided the authority, protection, and encouragement throughout Hurston's childhood. She was adamant about her children receiving a proper education and would give them lessons on arithmetic and grammar everyday. Mama wanted her children to stay at home, her reason being that they had "plenty of space to play in; plenty of things to play with; and, furthermore, plenty of [siblings] to keep each other's company", and that there was no reason for them to be running around outside as if they were too poor to stay inside the house and had to look elsewhere for pleasure. She never missed an opportunity to encourage her children to "jump at de sun", for even if they missed, they would still be off of the ground.
Contrary to Mama's encouragement, Papa provided an edge of negative reality to Hurston's childhood. He wanted his children to "let well enough alone" and not have too much hope for succeeding and earning a prominent stature.