Comparison of Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and Walker's Color Purple

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A Comparison of Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Color Purple

Of Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Alice Walker says "it speaks to me as no novel, past or present, has ever done." Though 45 years separate Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Color Purple, the two novels embody many similar concerns and methods. Hurston and Walker write of the experience of uneducated rural southern black women. They find a wisdom that can transform our communal relations and our spiritual lives. As Celie in The Color Purple says, referring to God: "If he ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different place, I can tell you."

Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God depicts the process of a woman's
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This problem is especially acute for black women, both writers seem to be saying, because the structures neither of society nor of formal religion provide this grounding. Janie finds it by being true to her own poetic, creative consciousness; in The Color Purple Walker's characters discover it through the strength and wisdom available in the community of women.

The ways of the world are represented for Janie by the views of her grandmother, Nanny and her first two husbands, Logan Killicks and Joe Starks. Nanny sees society as a hierarchy, with black women at the bottom. As she tells Janie,

Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tub find out. Maybe it's some place off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don't know nothin' but we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don't tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so far as Ah can see.

Though born into slavery, Nanny had "dreams of whut a woman oughta be and to do." She wanted to "preach a great sermon about colored women sittin' on high, but they wasn't no pulpit for [her]." She tries to fulfill her dreams first through her daughter and then through Janie. But slavery and years of dependence on a white family have warped
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