After the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves, the ex-slaves could not find enough good work to earn a living. Jim Crow laws were installed to push blacks further away from reaching their dreams. These laws were enforced after Plessy v. Ferguson conviction that blacks and whites could have everything "separate but equal." This included schools, transportation, drinking fountains, bathrooms and more. By 1914 all towns were split down the middle with the blacks on one side and whites on the other (Hoobler 51). The Homestead Act was established in 1866 to help blacks grow in their society. Many bought their own farms or went North and learned to linotype or held other professions such as shoemaking (Hoobler 51). With the movement of blacks to the North came the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance, a black movement in New York in which blacks began to more freely express themselves and their ideas (Rood 38). In illustrating gender roles and the class structure of a black society, author Zora Neale Hurston portrays the changing black society in her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God through characters that follow their dreams, which helps them take possession of their own lives.
The role of women in a black society is a major theme of this novel. Many women help demonstrate Hurston's ideas. Hurston uses Janie's grandmother, Nanny, to show one extreme of women in a black society, the women who follow in the footsteps of their ancestors. Nanny is stuck in the past. She still believes in all the things that used to be, and wants to keep things the way they were, but also desires a better life for her granddaughter than she had. When Nanny catc...
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1. "Booker Taliafero Washington." Alabama Department Archives & History. asc.edu. World Wide Web. 18 Jan. 1996. Available http://www.asc.edu/archives/famous/b_wash.html.
3. Encarta. Vers. 1997. Computer Software. Encarta, 1997. CD-rom.
4. Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937.
5. Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas. The African American Family Album. New York, NY: Oxford
University Press, 1995
6. "Jim Crow Laws." FX Bulletin Board Systems. Fxbbs.com. World Wide Web. Available
7. Nash, Gary B. American Odyssey. USA: Glencoe Division of Macmilla/McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1992
8. Rood, Karen L. American Decades 1920-1929. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc., 1996
9. Whiston, Julie. World Wide Web. Available http://www.grin.edu/~gardnerj/thirties/jw.html
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