Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel illustrating the life of an African American woman that finds her voice through many trials and tribulations. At the heart of the story, Hurston portrays a protagonist who moves from a passive state to independence, from passive woman with no voice who is dominated by her husband to a woman who can think and act for herself. Hurston achieves the greater theme of Their Eyes Were Watching God, of self-expression and independence through her use of three basic southern literary elements: narrative structure, ¬¬¬¬¬allegory, and symbolism. A brief inspection of these three basic elements will reveal how Their Eyes Were Watching God achieves its inspiring effect.
Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God helps us envision the struggles and battles of oppression of an African American woman, named Janie, during the turn of the century. As Janie strives for happiness and love we are provided with multiple examples abuse, disrespect and tyranny on behave of her own individuality, goals and dreams. Not only do we see that Janie was extremely disrespected but also misconceived on their roles in the social ladder in a severe patriarchal society.
Christianity is an essential part of the women’s slave narratives that were read thus far. As slaves bounded by their foreign masters, the religion of Christianity has shaped the black community’s way of thinking and their way of life as a whole. While the majority of slaves converted to Christianity, the women were very passionate with their Christian faith as they used it as a fundamental anchor to allow them to keep hope alive in times of struggle and strife. The three narratives that are chosen to illustrate this role of Christianity within the lives of slave women are the narratives of Memoir of Old Elizabeth: a Coloured Woman, A Slave Girl’s Story: Being and Autobiography of Kate Drumgoold, and Memories of Childhood’s Slavery Days by Annie L. Burton.
Living during the early nineteen hundreds was not easy for African American women. Women gained power through marriage, but they still were looked down upon and treated like slaves. In the story “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Zora Neale Hurston uses diction, symbolism, and foreshadowing to reveal how Janie sought to discover her own identity marrying three different men who helped her discover her independence leading to the fact that women were poorly treated during this time period and deserved more respect than they received.
In the novel, the author proposes that the African American female slave’s need to overcome three obstacles was what unavoidably separated her from the rest of society; she was black, female, and a slave, in a white male dominating society. The novel “locates black women at the intersection of racial and sexual ideologies and politics (12).” White begins by illustrating the Europeans’ two major stereotypes o...
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is about a young woman that is lost in her own world. She longs to be a part of something and to have “a great journey to the horizons in search of people” (85). Janie Crawford’s journey to the horizon is told as a story to her best friend Phoebe. She experiences three marriages and three communities that “represent increasingly wide circles of experience and opportunities for expression of personal choice” (Crabtree). Their Eyes Were Watching God is an important fiction piece that explores relations throughout black communities and families. It also examines different issues such as, gender and class and these issues bring forth the theme of voice. In Janie’s attempt to find herself, she grows into a stronger woman through three marriages.
In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, she utilizes an array of symbolism such as color, the store, and her husbands to solidify the overall theme of independence and individuality. Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered by many a classic American Feminist piece that emphasizes how life was for African Americans post slave era in the early 1900s. One source summarizes the story as, 1 ”a woman's quest for fulfillment and liberation in a society where women are objects to be used for physical work and pleasure.” Which is why the overall theme is concurrent to independence and self.
In Zora Neale Hurston's book Their Eyes were Watching God, she takes us on a journey through the life of a black woman in America. Ever since the abolishment of slavery since 1865, Americans saw the uprising of racism in the early 20th century. Many raciest names and chants were created by white people to show they were the superior race in America. There were also very few rights for women in our country during that time period, and were limited with their freedom. This was a large problem for Janie Crawford because she was a black woman. She grew up with her grandmother, who always said marriage will find you love. However, Janie realized that marriage did not make love; it only made more questions to who you really are. Janie learned this
The world of Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God was one of oppression and disappointment. She left the world of her suffocating grandmother to live with a man whom she did not love, and in fact did not even know. She then left him to marry another man who offered her wealth in terms of material possessions but left her in utter spiritual poverty. After her second husband's death, she claims responsibility and control of her own life, and through her shared love with her new husband, Teacake, she is able to overcome her status of oppression. Zora Neale Hurston artfully and effectively shows this victory over oppression throughout the book through her use of language. Her use of such stylistic devices as free indidrect discourse and signifting allow her to use language as power; the power for a black woman to realize her own potential.
In many instances, women never have the chance to realize their self worth or to meet their full potential. Learning about bravery, confidence, and selflessness is a major factor in Zora Neale Hurston’s novel. Their Eyes Were Watching God describes the troubles of a young African American woman, Janie Crawford, who is given the chance to learn in each of her relationships. Life presents one with limitless opportunities to learn and to better oneself. Janie finds a way to learn from unfavorable circumstances.