The Life of American Women in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel illustrating the life of an African American woman that finds her voice through many trials and tribulations. At the heart of the story, Hurston portrays a protagonist who moves from a passive state to independence, from passive woman with no voice who is dominated by her husband to a woman who can think and act for herself. Hurston achieves the greater theme of Their Eyes Were Watching God, of self-expression and independence through her use of three basic southern literary elements: narrative structure, ¬¬¬¬¬allegory, and symbolism. A brief inspection of these three basic elements will reveal how Their Eyes Were Watching God achieves its inspiring effect.
Zora Neale Hurston
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She learns to control her voice after she finds it. Similarly, the narrator is silent in exposed places, neither revealing why Janie isn’t upset with Tea Cake’s beating nor disclosing her words at the trial. Although Janie returns to Eatonville alone, she returns as a strong, new woman. Hurston’s narrative advocates both freedom from sexist and racist harassment, and the rejection of community and cultural values that enforce such harassment. Hurston also presents an imaginative consciousness that speaks of wandering and independence in a time when women were somewhat restricted. In the end, Janie, like Hurston and many African American women of the twentieth century, becomes a woman who can think and act for herself. Zora Neale Hurston also uses allegory to convey the theme of the novel. He uses it when Janie’s second husband, Joe Starks, forces Janie to wear a head-rag when in public. Because Janie’s hair is so attractive to men, Joe’s jealousy makes his wife bind her hair, constraining Janie’s femininity and stifling her identity. In an attempt to keep Janie all to himself, he suffocates her and loses her completely. When Joe dies, Janie wastes little time in burning all of the head-rags she owns. Here, the head-rag represents the constraints imposed on women by men in power, and how Joe obstructed Janie from finding her voice. When Janie gets attacked by the
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