Identity in Hurtson’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Kingston’s Woman Warrior, and Spiegelman’s Maus

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Identity in Hurtson’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Kingston’s Woman Warrior, and Spiegelman’s Maus

Despite being a very diverse literature genre in terms of influence and inspiration, North American literature encompasses many works that share some very common thematic elements. Though there are several themes shared, one in particular can be found in most any work – the importance of identity. Particularly in some selected pieces yet to be named, identity is a very important element, not only because it is a necessity for a main character in any work of literature, but because these works express ideas about identity as being very individualistic – as opposed to being a mere result of cultural surroundings. Zora Neal Hurtson’s Their
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She departs in secret from Logan and marries a newfound companion named Jody Starks, who she initially believes is a companion better suited to help her celebrate her individual identity. Yet, as their marriage progresses, and Jody becomes mayor in the town they relocate to, Jody begins to exercise his newly acquired power on her and against her wishes, and she becomes a mere fixture to Jody and his aspirations of power and influence. Again, this commanding influence from outside culture hampers her attempts at finding her identity, and again she becomes unhappy, and after finally voicing her displeasure at Jody, he even exerts physical force on her and assaults her. After their marriage ends, and Jody perishes shortly thereafter, she begins to date a young man whom she meets named Tea Cake, and finds a strong attraction for him, and marries him. Here is the ultimate culmination of her search for her own identity – not only does she go against common cultural precedent by marrying a man twelve years younger than her, but by doing so, she finds a companion not strong enough to exert overbearing power on her, and Tea Cake allows her to celebrate her independence with him. Though their marriage does end, it comes about by Tea Cake tragically perishing, not by a decision by Janie to leave her mate as in the previous cases. Yet, even though Tea Cake is gone, she still feels free, and is able to celebrate her

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