Silence: the absence of any sound or noise. The act of being silent or quiet is something that happens everyday, and as a result, often possesses no significance. In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston addresses that silence can have a purpose through the main character Janie. Janie, a woman struggling to find and express herself, is often silenced along her journey towards self-revelation. Silence is often an obstacle of hers, yet at the same time it allows time to take in the situation and analyze. Noise can be a distraction or a wall covering a bigger problem. Being quiet allows the true issue to show in its rawest form. Silence, although physically insignificant, can take deeper meaning. Zora Neale Hurston silences Janie to varying degrees to expose male dominance, emphasize conscious thought, and express the lack of a listener.
On Janie's journey towards self discovery and expression, progress is suddenly halted when she encounters controlling men. In respect for Nanny, Janie attempts to live her life through her nanny's expectations and desires. Nanny has taken the hard road in life, and tries her best to help Janie avoid life's unnecessary turmoils: “Yo' Nanny wouldn't harm a hair uh yo' head. She don't want nobody else to do it neither if she kin help it” (Hurston 14). Nanny has all the best intentions by setting Janie up with Logan Killicks, an older man who owns sixty acres of land. The man of Nanny's dreams does not match up with Janie's expectations, for Janie wants to be in a blossoming relationship that she is comfortable being a part of. Logan turns out to be a man of labor and “refuses to hear the real meaning behind [Janie'...
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...distractions. Taking time to observe and analyze the silence can bring something to the surface that could never be confronted in any other way. We need to embrace silence presented throughout life, for we will come out with more definitive, powerful voices.
Haurykiewicz, Julie A. "From mules to muliebrity: speech and silence in Their Eyes Were Watching." The Southern Literary Journal 29.2 (1997): 45+. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Feb. 2012.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc,1998. Print. 26 Feb. 2012.
Quashie, Kevin Everod. "The Trouble with Publicness: Toward a Theory of Black Quiet." African American Review 43.2-3 (2009): 329+. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Feb. 2012.
Washington, Mary Helen. Foreword. Their Eyes Were Watching God. By Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Harper & Row, 1937. xiv. Print
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