The South: The Creation of the African American Community in The Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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The concept of a new beginning is a repetitive theme that occurs in African American literature, mostly, in the geographical form of The South. Used as a literary landscape, The South is more than a representation of the horrors that African-Americans had endured during the time of slavery. It is there that African-Americans developed a society and culture that was constructed through the struggles of their ancestors and the mechanisms that had developed to survive. The history of their people is embedded throughout the soil of the landscape and it is from there a new future can arise. It also gave them religion and spiritual connections to their ancestors. Negro spirituals—whose original purpose was to guide slaves to freedom and increase…show more content…
“… we ain’t got nothin’ tuh do but do our work and come home and love.” (Gilyard & Wardi, 309) is how Tea Cake, a character in The Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, described an average day in the Everglades. The small town that they lived in were mostly empty except during the season where they harvest beans in the Everglades. The evenings are described to have been full of laughter and joviality as they gathered together to celebrate a good day’s work. “The house was full of people every night. That is, all around the doorstep was full. Some were there to hear Tea Cake pick the box; some to talk and tell stories …” (Gilyard & Wardi, 309) The South is where African-Americans speak of the positive aspects that the community had on them and how their true happiness came from having average experiences. Amidst the development of a private society, African-Americans had created a large music scene that aided in the raising of their spirits and creating hope. Music that was heavily inspired by their ancestors Negro spirituals. In the close-knit, southern community brought comfort to the African-Americans as well. Maya Angelou describes the use of music in her autobiography Gather Together in My Name as “Harmonious black music drifts like perfume through this precious air, and nothing of a threatening nature intrudes.” (Gilyard & Wardi, 319) Spiritual connections between their
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