Hurston did not design her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God with the intent of creating a protagonist figure in Tea Cake Woods. Hurston’s characters just naturally fit into the roles and personalities that African American women have been socialized to expect and accept from black men. The good over the bad; turn the other cheek; don't let it get you down. Forever taught that the road ain't gonna be easy and that a ain't-half-bad man is better than no man, African American women have been instilled with the belief that abuse, bitterness, and sadness can be ignored if there is something else to focus that energy on. In Janie's case, we are moved to accept Tea Cake, who is at times abusive, because of the way he makes Janie feel - young and happy.
I first read the novel during my Junior year of high school, during which time our main focus was merely to include African American authors in the canon, not to search their writings for their social and political implications. For this reason, I left my first reading of Hurston's novel with glazed-over eyes and a lifelong quest, if not an obsession, for a man like Tea Cake.
After another reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, I was shocked to discover just how much I had forgotten. How easily the details of Janie's first two husbands, Logan Killicks and Jody Starks, had escaped me. How willing I was to forget Tea Cake's abusive, indulgent ways in order to leave his reputation intact--in order to still love him when Janie was forced to take his life. After our class discussion, I became more and more disturbed by my ability to forgive and forget the first time around. Heartless slaps become love taps and petty ...
... middle of paper ...
...rn Literary Journal 29.2 (Spring 1997): 45-61.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). : Urbana, Ill.: U of Illinois P, 1937.
Interpretations: Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Kayano, Yoshiko. "Burden, Escape, and Nature's Role: A Study of Janie's Development in Their Eyes Were Watching God."
Publications of the Mississippi Philological Association (1998): 36-44. (ILL – not yet received)
Kubitschek, Missy Dehn. " ‘Tuh de Horizon and Back': The Female Quest in Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Modern Critical
Pondrom, Cyrena N. "The Role of Myth in Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God." American Literature 58.2 (May 1986): 181-202.
Williams, Shirley Anne. Forward. Their Eyes Were Watching God. By Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Bantam-Dell, 1937. xv.
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