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Voice and Language in Their Eyes Were Watching God

Powerful Essays
Voice and Language in Their Eyes Were Watching God

In one way or another, every person has felt repressed at some stage during their lives. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story about one woman's quest to free herself from repression and explore her own identity; this is the story of Janie Crawford and her journey for self-knowledge and fulfillment. Janie transforms many times as she undergoes the process of self-discovery as she changes through her experiences with three completely different men. Her marriages serve as stepping-stones in her search for her true self, and she becomes independent and powerful by overcoming her fears and learning to speak in her own, unique voice. Zora Neale Hurston effectively shows Janie's transformation throughout the book by means of language and her development of Janie's voice through the different stages of her life. Her use of free indirect discourse exemplifies Janie's power in overcoming oppression, realizing her own potential, and emerging as an individual.

Throughout the novel, Hurston's intertwining of the black vernacular (in the

form of direct discourse in quoted text) and Standard English (in the form

of indirect discourse in third person unquoted text) creates a seamless,

fluid narration which provides insight into Janie's soul on two levels. This

combination of the two seemingly dichotomous aspects of language is called

free indirect discourse (also called "speakerly text") 1. Through free

indirect discourse, Hurston is able to effectively express Janie's inner and

outer voices (which become stronger throughout the novel) as she develops

through a series of relationships and acquires greater self-identity.

Before...

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...atching God. New York: Harper & Row,

1937.

---. "Conjured Into Being: Zora Neale Hurston." Tim Gallaher, USC E texts.

Online. Internet. 8 October 1997.

Available < http: 11 www. ñ hsc. usc.edu/ ~ gallaher/ hurston/ hurston.

html

Johnson, Barbara. "Metaphor, Metonymy and Voice in Their Eyes Were Watching

God." Modern Critical Interpretations: Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were

Watching God. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.

Kubitschek, Missy Dehn. " 'Tuh de Horizon and Back': The Female Quest in

Their Eyes Were Watching God." Modern Critical Interpretations: Zora Neale

Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea

House Publishers, 1987.

Pondrom, Cyrena N. "The Role of Myth in Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching

God." American Literature 58.2 (May 1986): 181-202
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