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Their Eyes Were Watching God Essay

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In Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, the relationship between Janie and Nanny is one of great dispute over if it is healthy or not. The idea that the most influential person in Janie’s life is also the one who triggered her struggles when she was becoming a woman is sadly ironic. Nanny’s true influence on Janie is brought to light through symbolic, and decaying diction, Biblical, and Greek Mythological allusions, and natural metaphors, by describing Janie’s journey to womanhood, through finding her own opinion, acquiring a stable life from Nanny, her maturation, and what she gained when becoming a woman.
Through the use of symbolic diction, decaying diction, and metaphors, Hurston illustrates Janie’s inner struggle around accepting Nanny’s opinions as the correct ones. Inside Janie’s conscious self, “There is a basin in [her] mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight…” where she can think freely with thoughts that are, “…untouched by words” (24). This is a place where Janie can flourish by thinking about ideas without being inhibited by peer pressure. To truly understand the ideas formed in Janie’s mind, it is necessary for Janie to get in touch with her body and herself. However, through symbolic diction, it is clear that Janie’s impressionability leads her to not completely understand these thoughts; she has not reached the level of maturity necessary for this level of self-reflection. These qualities cause Janie to have the tendency to mirror Nanny’s opinions on issues, even when she internally disagrees with them. This tension is demonstrated when, “Nanny entered this infinity of conscious pain again on her old knees” (24). The “conscious pain” (24) which Janie speaks...


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... Nanny’s ideals, values, and opinions. Every aspect of Nanny was drilled inside of Janie, and once Nanny died, Janie was finally a free woman. The reason Janie was able to truly become a woman was because she realized that she was able to become a woman because when Nanny died she set her free.
During the journey that Janie went through when she became a woman she gained self-knowledge, and understood on a deeper level why Nanny did things. While Janie matured, it looked at first glance like Nanny was hindering her advancement. However, Nanny’s controlling actions were justified by her belief that she was doing the right thing, and that God would look after Janie. It is difficult to become a person unimpeded by what other people think, it took Nanny’s death for Janie to be released of an important influence, and never return to this time in her life.







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