His Eyes Were Watching Hurston Essay

His Eyes Were Watching Hurston Essay

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One’s first interpretation of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is that this novel is a tale of a woman’s struggle to find herself in a very harsh and trying time for African American women in the United States. Janie, the main character goes through several trials – and several husbands – on her way to find her voice. It is a simple story, with very relatable topics. However, according to Richard Wright, author of Black Boy, among other works, her story is not one with a strong message, and it does not hold the right message according to him. “It is difficult to evaluate…Their Eyes Were Watching God. This is not because there is an esoteric meaning hidden or implied in either of the two novels; but rather because neither of the two novels has a basic idea or theme that lends itself to significant interpretation” (Wright). Wrights political motives handicaps him and blinded him to Hurston’s anthropological approach of writing. One can draw two separate conclusions from Wright’s evaluation of the novel: that Hurston was not portraying African Americans in the right light, which can lend the reader to draw other than positive conclusions about blacks at this time; or that Hurston was simply following her teachings in anthropology and was just trying to tell a story, and let the reader draw his or her own conclusions from the novel. The problem that Wright sees with the novel could be that in a time of such struggle for African Americans, Hurston did not write for the cause, she did not write like Wright, and she did not try to add to Wright’s social commentary. Overall, Richard Wright’s review of Hurston’s novel was not appropriate and it was extremely biased.
The first problem that Wright states in his review o...


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...to spread this truth to the whites that were uneducated of southern black culture at this time. This book congratulates the culture and does not demean it. Hurston’s anthropological approach at writing is some of the most unbiased writing to come out of this period, and reflected the truth like almost no other authors were able to do at this time.



Works Cited

Duck, Leigh A. "Go There Tuh Know There." American Literary History 13 (2001): 265-94.

Hathaway, Rosemary V. "The Unbearable Weight of Authenticity." Journal of American Folklore 117 (2004): 168-90.

Heard, Matthew. "Dancing is Dancing No Matter Who is Doing It." College Literature 34 (2007): 129-57.

McKnight, Maureen. "Discerning Nostalgia in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God." Southern Quarterly (2007).

Wright, Richard. "Between Laughter and Tears." New Masses (1937): 22-23.

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