Their Eyes Were Watching God Theme Essay

1923 Words8 Pages
Hurston's “Their Eyes Were Watching God” presents several themes such as speech and silence, love and marriage, and finally gender roles. Zora Neale Hurston does an outstanding job of instituting what men such as Joe Starks believed were the standard roles for the African American female. Hurston pertinently described Janie through her relationship with Joe, the metaphoric value of the mule, and her dialogue as a woman of strength, not concerned with the ideals of her white female counterparts, sitting up on a high chair and overlooking the world. Janie desired a greater purpose.
In Hurston's “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, men and women inhabit separate roles. Not only are the women portrayed as the more fragile sex, Hurston essentially defines them by their relationships to and with the men. Thus, marriage is paramount in this story. The message sent here is that women can and do only obtain power through marrying powerful or, at least, motivated men. By the use of tradition, women are limited to the confines of positions of piteousness, passiveness, domesticity, and of course as sexual objectivity. The men consistently silence the women's voices, limit their actions with proprietary notions and insult their appearance and sexuality. In
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In Chapter 6, Hurston displays the importance males exhibiting superiority their female partners and their attempts to force them into roles of subservience. In this chapter, Joe Starks attempts push Janie into a passive role by hushing her in conversations, physically abusing her in their home, and handling her as an item in his possession. The author establishes this early in the novel to serve as a catalyst for Janie to make the decision that her personal growth and development as a strong woman will only materialize when she escapes the mold into which Joe has forced
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