In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston a young girl named Janie begins her life unknown to herself. She searches for the horizon as it illustrates the distance one must travel in order to distinguish between illusion and reality, dream and truth, role and self? (Hemenway 75). She is unaware of life?s two most precious gifts: love and the truth. Janie is raised by her suppressive grandmother who diminishes her view of life. Janie?s quest for true identity emerges from her paths in life and ultimatly ends when her mind is freed from mistaken reality.
Failing to recognize herself as the one black child in a photograph, Janie begins her story without a name or color (Meese 62). ?Dey all uster call me Alaphabet? cause so many people had done named me different names? (Hurston 9). The revelation doesn?t devastate Janie, rather it stands as both a symbol of Nanny?s unrealistic attempts to shield the girl from life and a metaphor for Janie?s lack of self-knowledge (Williams 100). Nanny raised Janie through her own dreams ?of what a woman oughta be and do? (Hurston 100). Nanny projects a stereotypical identity and a secure future for Janie based on what she knows, which is limited by the historical constraints of what she has seen of the white man?s power over blacks (Meese 62). She tries to control Janie under her own rules and unfair authority. Nanny tells Janie,
Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as far as Ah been able to find out. Maybe it?s someplace off in the ocean where the black man is in power, but we don?t know nothi?n about what we see. So de white man throw down the load and tell de nigger ...
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...lating the Rage of Black Women and Narrative Self-Defense.? African American Review 26.1 1992): 147-159.
Hemenway, Robert E. Crayon Enlargement of Life. Modern Critical Views: Zora Neale Hurston. Ed. Harold Bloom. Chelsea House, 1986. 72-80.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.
Johnson, Barbra. ?Metaphor, Metonymy and Voice.? Hemenway 160-168.
Jones, Evora. ? Scent and Immersion: Narrative Expression in Their Eyes Were Watching God.? College Language Association Journal 39 (1996): 369-379.
Kaplan, Carla. ?The Oldest Human Longing.? American Literature 61.1 (1995): 115-124
Meese, Elizabeth A. ?Ortality and Texuality in Their Eyes Were Watching God? Crossing the Double Cross: The Practice of Feminist Criticism. North Carolina Press, 1986. 59-70.
Williams, Shirly A. ?Janie?s Burden.? Hemenway 98-105.
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