Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

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Explained Styles & Tones Of Their Eyes Were Watching God

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” (pg.1, par.1) and so begins the powerful story of Janie Crawford, along with the author’s menagerie of different styles and tones. These tones and styles set the stage for Zora Neale Hurston’s major themes, all of which were strongly introduced and defended throughout the novel. Hurston’s themes vary from sexism, to dialogue, and to religion; which during her time were extremely prudent issues to the U.S. and even a few other countries. However, her approach to these issues, though strong, is quite different from that of similar novelists of the time period. Her unusual way of portraying issues throughout this book gives her writing a sense of mysterious intellect; so much so one won’t fully understand it until they have finished the entire novel.

This starting paragraph for example, “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon… Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget… Then they act and do things accordingly.” (pg.1 par.1) Two important pieces of writing come into play in this first paragraph; the biggest most likely being Hurston’s first use of the word ‘horizon’ which recurs again and again as the novel persists. The second important item is the start of Hurston’s opinion of sexism; which of course sounds nothing like the usual opinion of ‘equality’ her time boasts. No, she starts out from the very beginning describing the crucial differences between men and women. She continues to describe, through each relationship had by Janie, that men and women need d...

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...eceive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped....Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood” (pg.145, par.1), portray exceedingly sinister pictures of the Lord our God. However, this hardship that “God” has made them suffer through only strengthens Janie’s character even more; this happens through the deep love between her and Tea Cake. Though they do struggle to get through the hardships; the sense of self Janie receives afterward stays with her, and helps her sustain her inner peace with nature. This inner peace is what Janie means when she says she has been, “to de horizon and back” (pg.191, par.4) as she finishes her story to Pheoby. Thus, she feels that she has reached fulfillment in her life; peace with God, Nature, all the people around her, and most importantly herself.
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