Their Eyes Were Watching God Analysis

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Diane von Furstenberg once said, “I always wanted to be a femme fatale. Even when I was a young girl, I never really wanted to be a girl. I wanted to be a woman.” In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the recurring motif illustrates the struggle of the protagonist, the wide-eyed Janie Crawford, who strives to become a woman on her own terms. Janie is a young woman left to live with her grandmother Nanny, a woman whose existence has been shaped not only by slavery but by terrible experiences with the worst of humanity. Janie must overcome the judgement and corroding influence of others in order to wholeheartedly find her true self. Zora Neale Hurston illustrates Janie’s internal battle to decide between independence, in which sexuality is the key to the road to freedom, and Nanny’s opposing dream of stability through the symbols of a mule and references to nature.
Nanny, whose constraining ideals are a result of her background as a slave, wholeheartedly believes that security and stability in a marriage are far more important than menial things such as passion for one’s spouse. This is evident as she manipulates Janie into an unloving union with the farmer Logan Killicks, an otherwise quite bland man, by reffering to black women as, “De white man throw down de load and tell the n***** man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De n***** woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.
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