Determinism vs. Free Will in "Their Eyes Were Watching God." Essay

1416 Words Jun 3rd, 2005 6 Pages
Laura Lecarreaux
May 4, 2005
LIT 233/Section 09
Professor Carbonell

"'…but she don't seem to mind at all. Reckon dey understand one ‘nother.'" A woman's search for her own free will to escape the chains of other people in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God.

In the continuing philosophical debate of free will versus determinism, the question arises as to whether or not free will exists. Do people really have the capability of making decisions on their own? OR Is life already determined, and whatever we do is (and always was) the only thing that we could have done at that time, conditions being what they were? Given the circumstances in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, I would argue that, while free
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Hurston makes her reader believe that, at times, Janie does have free will, but her life is already planned out. With enough knowledge of Janie's character, the reader could predict the outcome of the story, or even what might have happened to Janie later on had Hurston not ended where she had. It is almost imaginable that Janie has not changed much in the end of the story and will continue her old ways of depending on a person for support and protection. The plan for Janie's future begins with her lack of having real parents. Hurston builds up a foundation for Janie that is bound to fall like a Roman Empire. Janie's grandmother, whom she refers to as "Nanny" takes the position as Janie's guardian. The problem begins here for Janie because her Nanny not only spoils her, but also makes life choices for her. Nanny is old, and she only wants the best for her grandchild, for she knows that the world is a cruel place. Nanny makes the mistake of not allowing Janie to learn anything on her own. When Janie was sixteen years old, Nanny wanted to see her get married. Although Janie argued at first, Nanny insisted that Janie get married. "'Yeah, Janie, youse got yo' womanhood on yuh… Ah wants to see you married right away.'" (Page 12). Janie was not given a choice in this decision. Her Nanny even had a suitor picked out for her. Janie

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