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Symbols of Feminine Power in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Symbols of Feminine Power in Their Eyes Were Watching God  

    Much evidence supports Saturday Review writer Doris Grumbach's opinion that Their Eyes Were Watching God is "the finest black novel of its time" and "one of the finest of all time" (Washington, 4). Zora Neale Hurston's text is highly regarded because of the meaning and purpose it conveys using poetic language and folkloric imagery. It is the heroic story of Janie Crawford's search for individuality, self-realization, and independence from the patriarchal forces of her time. Because the novel is mainly concerned with Janie's many relationships within a male-dominated context, it is only logical to take feminist view of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Throughout my reading of this particular novel I have identified the images of porches, trees, and the horizon as symbols of power in favor of Janie Crawford's search for a feminist identity. To support this opinion, I have chosen to utilize the feminist / reader response theories formulated by Judith Fetterley in Introduction to the Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction.

Fetterley's writing is useful for the study of Their Eyes Were Watching God because of her discussion of power and its relation to women. In her introduction she explains the relationship between the two classifications of gender (male versus female) and the ideology of America. According to Fetterley, "American literature is male," and "to be American is male" (991). Unfortunately, this type of philosophy has existed for many years and still exists today. In order for a change to occurs, Fetterley says that readers must "examine American fictions in light of how attitudes toward women shape their form and content" because it...

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  Works Cited

Donlon, Jocelyn Hazelwood. "Porches: Stories: Power: Spatial and Racial Intersections in Faulkner and Hurston."Journal of American Culture (1996): 95-110. Online. Internet. 8 December 1999. Available:…GT.&SP.URL.P=(H5Z7)J(0000121600)&.

Fetterley, Judith. "Introduction to the Resisting Reader: a Feminist Approach to American Fiction." The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Ed. David H. Richter. Boston: Bedford books, 1998. 991-998.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Perennial Classics, 1990.

Jacobs, Karen. "From 'Spy-glass' to Horizon: Tracking the Anthropological Gaze in Zora Neale Hurston." Novel (1997): 329-60. Online. Internet. 8 December 1999. Available:…GT.&SP.URL.P=(H5Z7)J(00000121600)&.



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