Janie: Victim of Male Dominating Society in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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Mary Helen Washington’s essay denies Hurston’s effort to create a liberated female character in Their Eyes Were Watching God. Washington believes that Janie is actually excluded “from power, particularly from the power of oral speech”. Janie plays a role of an object for men to look at and talk about. The consequence of this oppression is shown after Jody’s death, rather than declaring her freedom, Janie appreciates her own hair by looking at the mirror just like other men in the town. She is banned from taking part in the porch talk, so she hides her voice. Even when she speaks, her voice does not lead to power, action nor contentment, but self-division. Washington disagrees with Barbara Johnson’s opinion that Janie’s self-division leads to her discovery of her own voice. When it seems that Janie can finally speak of her own mind while living with Tea Cake, Tea Cake becomes the center of both her speech and her interior thoughts in fact. Her voice is still dominated by the male. More surprisingly, she hires Hezikiah to manage the store with her because he “wa...

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