Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston Essay

Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston Essay

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In Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and “Sweat,” Hurston uses the characters Janie Crawford and Delia Jones to symbolize African-American women as the mules of the world and their only alternative were through their words, in order to illustrate the conditions women suffered and the actions they had to take to maintain or establish their self-esteem.
Hurston first introduced the mule in “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” to function as a symbol of the ongoing conflict women have faced with as they struggle with being worked hard, oppressed and mistreated. Janie’s grandmother, Nanny, grew up in slavery and the associated of bondage. She informs granddaughter, “So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.” (Hurston 14) Here Nanny paints a vivid picture for Janie informing her the way of the world and where she as an African American woman stands in it – at the bottom of the totem pole. Nanny reveals that African American women carry the burdens that are placed by society. With this statement, Nanny communicates the way African American women have been dehumanized. Sharon Jones suggests that the imagery of the mule indicates, “The burden of this animal, hard-working and often unappreciated, is paralleled in the situation of black women.” (Jones 185) Thus, Nanny was preparing Janie for the realities of life, which women is at the lowest position in society and is carrying the loads of both white and black man’s burdens
Hurston introduces the imagery of the mule the second time in “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” with Janie’s first husband,...


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...nie a sense of empowerment, but Jody would do anything to in return take that power from her. It gave her a sense of empowerment because she interjected in the conversation and expressed her disapproval publicly to which she tells the men, “God told me how surprised He was ‘bout y’all turning out so smart after Him makin’ yuh different; and how surprised y’all is goin’ tuh be if you ever find out you don’t know half as much ‘bout us as you think you do. It’s so easy to make yo’self out God Almighty when you ain’t got nothin’ tuh strain again but women and chickens.” (Hurston 75) Janie makes this statement, in front of those who look up to Jody, which reveals Janie is tired of being silenced. She was acquiring her identity as a woman, that didn’t involve her husband’s idea of woman he wanted her to be. In this instance, I believe Janie was coming into her womanhood.

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