Zora Neale Hurston

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Since the beginning of time, women have played minor roles in societies, relationships, and class systems. Women were forced and subjected to a life of dependency on men, because of the idea “The patriarchal system is the way to prosperity.” For example, men were blessed with an inheritance while women had to marry into one. Women had no free will of their own and were seen as entertainers, servants, and carriers for childbirth. As time progressed, women began to make a stand and fought to be equal with men. While the laws grant limited equality, offering women the opportunity to have the rights and privileges like men, they were still subjected mentally and emotionally which often made the laws and rights useless. Then, there were some women that sought to be strong even in the midst of that. Women like Missie May Banks and Janie Crawford were examples of the newer generation of post-slavery women who wanted to live a different and more successful life than their predecessors. Though the women in Zora Neale Hurston’s stories suffered physically, emotionally, and mentally, they remained strong enough to stand their ground and love the men they cared for.

Because a lighthearted attitude was almost necessary during the time of Reconstruction, Zora Neale Hurston had a since of humor about women’s issues. She was a woman first and African American second, which provoked her to shed light on the importance of feminine identity during her era. Writer Julian C. Chambliss explained “The Reconstruction was a period of change and instability that the African American culture was undergoing a shift of domestic dynamics. In the ages of slave labor, African American families were more matriarchal. Emancipation and reconstructi...

... middle of paper ... criticized for her work, she never made her characters suffer. She allowed them to be viewed in a positive light, even if they didn’t make the best decisions. In “The Gilded Six Bits”, Missie May had an affair with the richest man in town Otis D. Slemmons. Today, people would look at Missie May as if she were a whore or slut, but few would actually inquire about her motives for having an affair. Caroll Smith Rosenburg concluded that the modern woman organized her life much more around men and heterosexual relations, whereas her predecessors lived in a female world designed to compliment men’s. Missie May proves this conclusion to be true. She organized her life around Joe and catered to his every need. She knew Joe was hard-working and how much he longed for the gold pieces Mr. Slemmons had so she went to bed with him in order to please her husband.
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