In 1937, upon the first publication of Their Eyes Were Watching God, the most influential black writer of his time, Richard Wright, stated that the novel "carries no theme, no message, [and] no thought." Wright's powerful critique epitomized a nation's attitude toward Zora Neale Hurston's second novel. African-American critics read a book that they felt satisfied the "white man's" stereotype of African-American culture and the humor which Caucasians saw in that prejudice. However, those critics and most of America overlooked the wonderful use of imagery, symbolism, and thematic application of one African-American female's journey into womanhood and self-identification in a male-dominated society. Hurston introduced Janie Crawford, a strong, articulate, and dramatic character whose life was best empathized by women or by inhabitants of migrant farms and rural Black towns. Their Eyes Were Watching God is permeated with recurring symbols, such as a pear tree, a fence-gate, and Janie's hair, that enlighten a young girl's quest for self-fulfillment, as she discovers the true meaning of love and happiness through two failed marriages and one successful but tragic third.
The strongest symbol in Their Eyes Were Watching God is the pear tree. The pear blossom is a representation of Janie, as she is a young girl blooming into a woman during a spring afternoon. Hurston explains this symbolism at the first of the chapter, describing Janie as ìa great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branchesî (Hurston 8) Janie then lies beneath the tree, observes the bees pollinate a blossom, and ex...
... middle of paper ...
...ecade of prejudice against African-Americans, women, and most importantly, African-American women.
Sources Cited and Consulted:
Donlon, Jocelyn Hazelwood. "Power: Spatial and Racial Intersections in Faulkner and Hurston."Journal of American Culture (1996): 95-110. Online. Internet. 8 December 2001. Available: http:vweb.hwwilsonweb.com/
Fetterley, Judith. "Introduction to the Resisting Reader: a Feminist Approach to American Fiction." The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Ed. David H. Richter. Boston: Bedford books, 1998. 991-998.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Perennial Classics, 1990.
Jacobs, Karen. "From 'Spy-glass' to Horizon: Tracking the Anthropological Gaze in Zora Neale
Hurston." Novel (1997): 329-60. Online. Internet. 8 December 2001. Available: http:vweb.hwwilsonweb.com/
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Powerful Voice of Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God The world of Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God was one of oppression and disappointment. She left the world of her suffocating grandmother to live with a man whom she did not love, and in fact did not even know. She then left him to marry another man who offered her wealth in terms of material possessions but left her in utter spiritual poverty. After her second husband's death, she claims responsibility and control of her own life, and through her shared love with her new husband, Teacake, she is able to overcome her status of oppression.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
1795 words (5.1 pages)
- Choosing Sides in Their Eyes Were Watching God and Lone Star A major theme in multicultural literature is the search for identity by those of more than one culture. In most cases, one of these cultures is recognized as being more advantaged and powerful than the other. In John Sayles's Lone Star and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, bicultural characters negatively stereotype members of their own "inferior" or "less advantaged" background in order to identify themselves with their more powerful culture.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
978 words (2.8 pages)
- Zora Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God follows protagonist Janie Mae Crawford’s journey into womanhood and her ultimate quest for self-discovery. Having to abruptly transition from childhood to adulthood at the age of sixteen, the story demonstrates Janie’s eternal struggle to find her own voice and realize her dreams through three marriages and a lifetime of hardships that come about from being a black woman in America in the early 20th century. Throughout the novel, Hurston uses powerful metaphors helping to “unify” (as Henry Louis Gates Jr.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
2923 words (8.4 pages)
- Janie's Metamorphosis in Their Eyes Were Watching God "Dey all useter call me Alphabet 'cause so many people had done named me different names," Janie innocently expresses (Hurston 9). The nickname "Alphabet" is appropriate in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God because she is indefinable to others and herself. From her early childhood, Janie Crawford searches for self-knowledge and grows through her relationships with men, family, and society. The main character continually seeks autonomy and self-realization, but her quest cannot continue as long as she is the object of others.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
1588 words (4.5 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
2787 words (8 pages)
- Janie’s Courageous Voice in Their Eyes Were Watching God Through her use of southern black language Zora Neale Hurston illustrates how to live and learn from life’s experiences. Janie, the main character in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a woman who defies what people expect of her and lives her life searching to become a better person. Not easily satisfied with material gain, Janie quickly jumps into a search to find true happiness and love in life. She finally achieves what she has searched for with her third marriage.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
1409 words (4 pages)
- Give an inanimate object the ability to walk. Compare an idea to an image. Exaggerate a concept. Each person has a different poetic style, and each poetic style uses different poetic techniques: personification, simile, hyperbole, imagery, or irony. Zora Neale Hurston reveals her unique poetic style through Their Eyes Were Watching God, the story of Janie Crawford and her journey to finding unconditional, true love. Her journey begins with an arranged marriage to Logan Killicks, a physically unappealing man with a considerable house, to an elopement with Joe Starks, a power-hungry and egocentric leader, and ends with Tea Cake, the man that loves Janie, despite the consequences that come wit... [tags: Poetic Style Analysis, Diction]
1070 words (3.1 pages)
- Significance of the Porch in Hurston’s Novels, Seraph on the Suwanee and Their Eyes Were Watching God “She took to inviting other women friends to drop in and they all expressed envy of her porch. It built Avray up and made her feel more inside of things. It was a kind of throne room, and out there, Avray felt that she could measure arms and cope. Just looking around gave her courage. Out there, Avray had the courage to visit the graveyard of years and dig up dates and examine them cheerfully.” (Seraph on the Suwanee 234) “It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road.... [tags: Their Eyes Watching God Seraph Suwanee]
541 words (1.5 pages)
- Their Eyes Were Watching God Book Report 1. Title: Their Eyes Were Watching God 2. Author/Date Written: Zora Neale Hurston/1937 3. Country of Author: 4. Characters Janie Mae Crawford- The book’s main character. She is a very strong willed, independent person. She is able to defy a low class, unhappy life because of these factors, even though the environment that she grew up and lived in was never on her side. Pheoby Watson – Janie’s best friend in Eatonville. Pheoby is the only towns person who respects and cares for Janie.... [tags: essays research papers]
1758 words (5 pages)
- Their Eyes Were Watching God Theme Many times the love that a person is looking for is the one that a person doesn't realize. Setting The author begins and ends the book on a porch where Janie is telling her story to her friend Pheobe Watson. The book begins in the morning on the porch and then ends at night, symbolic of beginning and end. In between these two times Janie is telling her story which travels through the state of Florida. Style In this book, Hurston writes in the dielect of the black community of the time.... [tags: essays research papers]
6207 words (17.7 pages)
- Essay on the Mysterious Pearl in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter
- One of Canada's Greatest Authors, Margaret Laurence
- A Comparison of Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter and the Garden of Eden
- The Righteous Hester Prynne of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter
- Identity in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
- Comparing Women in The Bell Jar and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute