In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston portrays the religion of black people as a form of identity. Each individual in the black society Hurston has created worships a different God. But all members of her society find their identities by being able to believe in a God, spiritual or other. Grandma’s worship of Jesus and the “Good Lawd,” Joe Starks’ worship of himself, Mrs. Turner’s worship of white characteristics, and Janie’s worship of love, all stem from a lack of jurisdiction in the society they inhabit. All these Gods represent a need for something to believe in and work for: an ideal, which they wish to achieve, to aspire to. Each individual character is thus
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston in 1937 was written during the time of the Harlem Renaissance, also known as the New Negro Movement. The New Negro Movement came about as a rejection of the racial segregation between blacks and whites. The black women felt this effect of racism more acutely than the black man. For centuries, Black women have been called the “mule of the world” and had been giving the status of inferior to white and the black man. Their Eyes Were Watching God encloses many elements of both racism and sexism. It is a story set in central and southern Florida. It follows the novels protagonist Janie in her search for self-awareness as she goes through three marriages. Elizabeth A. Meese has argued that one of
Zora Neale Hurston is considered one of the most unsurpassed writers of twentieth-century African-American literature. Published in 1937, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God depicts the life of Janie Crawford, an African-American woman, who is in search of true love and ultimately her true self. In the novel, Janie shows us that love comes in all shapes and forms, and love is different with each person you choose to love. In the opening of the novel, Hurston uses a metaphor to say that, while men can never reach for their dreams, women can direct their wills and chase their dreams. Hurston uses this metaphor to make a distinction of men and women gender roles, and Janie went against the norms that were expected of her.
Society has always thought of racism as a war given to the lowly African American from the supposedly high class white man, but no one thought there would be prejudice within a hierarchical class system inside the black community. However within that class system, history has shown that darker colored women are at the deep trenches of the totem pole. In the novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” African American women are put under harm and control exposing the racism and sexism with their community. Through the life of Janie Crawford, Zora Neale Hurston portrays the concept of a woman finding her independence in a black, hierarchical, and racist society.
Hurston starts her writing with an inspirational tone. She is working on her writing during a time where it was hard for African Americans to prosper. She chooses to go the unconventional way of writing for most upcoming African American writers of that time. Hurston writes in the passage that “Negroes were supposed to write about the Race Problem” with Hurston writing this it shows she doesn’t want to be “just a cog in a machine” but, she wanted to be the machine(133).
Taking place in the 1920’s, Harlem Renaissance was a period of time where cultural, social, and artistic expansion took place in the American society. Hurston’s uniqueness led her to write about the problems of individuals, particularly white ones and black ones. In her own words, she stated, “Many Negroes criticise my book, because I did not make it a lecture on the race problem. I have ceased to think in terms of race; I think only in terms of individuals. I am interested in you now, not as a Negro man but as a man” (“Although her reputation”). In addition, Hurston portrayed the lives of black people as constantly miserable, downtrodden and deprived. For instance, in Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the main character, Janie Crawford, finds her second husband, Joe Starks, only to mislead her life. Janie figures out that she once again lacks the love she had longed for. Joe considered Janie to be his possession. He expected Janie to be a well-behaved wife, who would not speak up for herself or disobey him. He additionally expected her to follow every order he had for her, such as forbidding her to interact and play checkers with people (“The most prevalent”). During this time, men were showing off their masculinity by ordering their wives around and ruling over them. However, Janie refused to accept herself to be oppressed, rather “outspoken and headstrong” (Zora Neale Hurston’s). Hurston is trying to portray that women should have the courage to speak up for
Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God recounts the life and loves of a bi-racial woman in the racially charged South during the 1900s. After the death of her third husband, Janie returns to Eatonville amid judgment and gossip, prompting her to share her life’s lessons with dear friend Phoeby. As Hurston’s protagonist relives her turbulent loves, she embarks of a journey of self-discovery, her voice transforming from suppressed to empowered over the course of her marriages.
Janie shows the issues African Americans faced during this period and the their newfound confidence but also shows differences from the beliefs of this era. Hurston uses these departures and similarities to allow the reader to further understand the novel and the time period in which it takes
Zora Neale Hurston had an intriguing life, from surviving a hurricane in the Bahamas to having an affair with a man twenty years her junior. She used these experiences to write a bildungsroman novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, about the colorful life of Janie Mae Crawford. Though the book is guised as a quest for love, the dialogues between the characters demonstrate that it is actually about Janie’s journey to learn how to not adhere to societal expectation.
Zora Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God follows protagonist Janie Mae Crawford’s journey into womanhood and her ultimate quest for self-discovery. Having to abruptly transition from childhood to adulthood at the age of sixteen, the story demonstrates Janie’s eternal struggle to find her own voice and realize her dreams through three marriages and a lifetime of hardships that come about from being a black woman in America in the early 20th century. Throughout the novel, Hurston uses powerful metaphors helping to “unify” (as Henry Louis Gates Jr. puts it) the novel’s themes and narrative; thus providing a greater understanding of Janie’s quest for selfhood. There are three significant metaphors in the novel that achieve this unity: the
Zora Neale Hurston was an influential African-American novelist who emerged during the Harlem Renaissance. (Tow 1) During the Harlem Renaissance Hurston’s novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God, was written in southern dialect so that the African American audience can relate, mainly because Hurston could only write about what she knew. “In the case of Hurston, dialect, as a regional vernacular, can and does contain subject, experience emotion and revelation.” (Jones 4) when Hurston's novel first was released many people didn't not accept the writing for what it really was. “When Their Eyes Were Watching God first appeared in 1937, it was well-received by white critics as an intimate portrait of southern blacks, but African-American reviewers rejected the novel. (Telgen, Hile 1) In this modern day the novel is well accepted and has been called "a classic of black literature, one of the best novels of the period" (Howard 7) In "Their Eyes Were Watching God", Janie takes on a journey in search of her own identity where each of her three husbands plays an important role in her discovery of who she is.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is about a young woman that is lost in her own world. She longs to be a part of something and to have “a great journey to the horizons in search of people” (85). Janie Crawford’s journey to the horizon is told as a story to her best friend Phoebe. She experiences three marriages and three communities that “represent increasingly wide circles of experience and opportunities for expression of personal choice” (Crabtree). Their Eyes Were Watching God is an important fiction piece that explores relations throughout black communities and families. It also examines different issues such as, gender and class and these issues bring forth the theme of voice. In Janie’s attempt to find herself, she
The most inportant question is whether Hurston's books further racial equality or not. Langston Hughes certainly didn't think so, calling her "a perfect 'darkie.'" He believed whites paid her for being their happy stereotype so they could feel okay about blacks' inequality (Hughes,1940). Likewise, Alain Locke criticized her avoidance of interracial confrontations (Locke,1938), as did Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison
Zora Neale Hurston was born in 1891 and was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist. She is known for her contribution to African American Literature during the Harlem Renaissance. Their Eyes Were Watching God, one of Hurston’s best well known works was published in 1937 and it revolves around the journey of an African American woman, Janie Crawford. Hurston and her character Janie have a lot in common, they both struggle with their identities as light-skinned African Americans. Zora Neale Hurston’s use of symbolism, irony, and metaphor develops the theme that people typically live unsatisfactory lives as they are unable to liberate themselves from oppression social norms.
In some of Hurston’s works she acknowledges Eatonville, which was the first all-black community in America that she moved to when she was only three years old (Kimmons, 3). Hurston viewed Eatonville as a place where blacks could ultimately be themselves without having to conform to the norms of a white society (Kimmons, 1). Hurston was protected from the realisms of judgement and disgust towards African Americans; since Eatonville was described to be somewhat safe from lynchings and other violence related to racism. After