"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. Janie must find her own identity to become the subject of her desires and dreams. To accomplish this, she enters into, not away from, black culture to find her meaning in life. Janie dares not to be pathetic, or tragic, but to defy the expectations of her men, family, and society. Through Janie's life experiences, she is able to shift from the object of other's lives to the subject of her own life.
Hurston uses the power of language and different narrative techniques to show Janie's transition throughout the novel. It is important to notice that in Janie's journey from object to subject, the narration of the novel shifts from third person to a mixture of first and third person; thus, the shift shows the awareness of self within Janie. Language becomes an instrument of injury and salvation and of selfhood and empowerment. The use of powerful language is exemplified well in the text when Janie is asked to say a few words as the new Mrs. Mayor. Joe, her second husband, quickly cuts in and says, "Thank yuh fuh yo' compliments, but mah wife don't know nothin' 'bout no speech-makin'. Ah never married her for not...
... middle of paper ...
...izes the chance for happiness. Janie is comfortable knowing that she can live for herself, for she has become the subject of her own life. Janie is a complete woman because her inner and outer self unites; she transforms her social role into an organic role. Being comfortable in one's own skin and self, because of and not in spite of, is the true source of joy.
Sources Cited and Consulted
Hinton, Kip Austin. "Zora Neale Hurston." Zora Neale Hurston Web Site. Kip Austin Hinton, ed. 07/16/2003. Available at www.1.am/zora
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper & Row, 1937.
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.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Janie's Metamorphosis in Their Eyes Were Watching God Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story about identity and reality to say the least. Each stage in Janie's life was a shaping moment. Her exact metamorphosis, while ambiguous was quite significant. Janie's psychological identification was molded by many people, foremost, Nanny, her grandmother and her established companions. Reality, identity, and experience go hand in hand in philosophy, identity is shaped by experience and with experience you accept reality.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
912 words (2.6 pages)
- Janie and the Pear Tree in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, the image of a pear tree reverberates throughout the novel. The pear tree is not only a representation of Janie's life - blossoming, death, metamorphosis, and rebirth - but also the spark of curiosity that sets Janie on her quest for self-discovery. Janie is essentially "rootless" at the beginning of her life, never having known her mother or father and having been raised by her grandmother, Nanny.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
906 words (2.6 pages)
- "Dey all useter call me Alphabet 'cause so many people had done named me different names," Janie says (Hurston 9). The nickname "Alphabet" is fitting in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God because Janie is always changing and rearraging, never the same. Janie Crawford was constantly searching for happiness, self-realization, and her own voice. Janie dares not to fit the mold, but rather defy it to get what she wants. On the journey to find her voice, she marries three separate men and each one of these men contribute to Janie’s quest in different ways.... [tags: comparison essays]
1018 words (2.9 pages)
- Their Eyes Were Watching God: Summary A caterpillar crawls along a desolate branch. His many appendages grip the gray bark as he undulates his body along the path in the shade. Creeping steadily forward he is looking for the proper place suitable enough for him to change his identity. Upon finding a twig sprout where he can get bilateral support, he builds his cocoon. After his cocoon is finished the caterpillar crawls in for his metamorphosis. If one is to see a cocoon on a tree it does not resemble beauty, it is a bland piece of wound thread like material with a hole in the top.... [tags: essays research papers]
988 words (2.8 pages)
- The Charater of Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie Crawford is the heroine. She helps women to deal with their own problems by dealing with hers. She deals with personal relationships as well as searches for self-awareness. Janie Crawford is more than a heroine, however, she is a woman who has overcome the restrictions placed on her by the oppressive forces and people in her life. As a young woman, Janie had no complaints about her role in society and fit in as most young people do.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
1124 words (3.2 pages)
- Janie's Search for Identity in Their Eyes Were Watching God In the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, there are many lessons on a person's search for identity. Janie's search for identity throughout this book is very visible. It has to do with her search for a name, and freedom for herself. As she goes through life her search takes many turns for the worse and a few for the better, but in the end she finds her true identity. Through her marriages with Logan, Joe, then Tea Cake she figures out what is for her and how she wants to live.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
993 words (2.8 pages)
- The Growth of Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God Human beings love inertia. It is human nature to fear the unknown and to desire stability in life. This need for stability leads to the concept of possessing things, because possession is a measurable and definite idea that all society has agreed upon. Of course, when people begin to rely on what they know to be true, they stop moving forward and simply stand still. Zora Neal Hurston addresses these general human problems in her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
2959 words (8.5 pages)
- 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)
- 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)
- Their Eyes Were Watching God - Janie's Life and the Pear Tree Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story centered on the idea of life cycles. The experiences that Janie faces and struggles through in her life represent the many cycles that she has been present for. Each cycle seem to take place with the start of each new relation ship that she faces. Each relationship that Janie is involved in not just marriages, blooms and withers away like the symbol of Janie's life the pear tree from her childhood.... [tags: Their Eyes Were Watching God Essays]
718 words (2.1 pages)
- Resistance to Change in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
- Relationship between Fiction and Reality Explored in The Things They Carried
- Fate and Free Will in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
- Existentialism in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
- Dickens's View of the Middle Class in Victorian Society
- Free Essay: Tim O'Brien's Things They Carried