Essay PreviewMore ↓
Doing the Right Thing in Their Eyes Were Watching God
When faced with urgent moral conflicts such as during the hurricane in Zora Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, men generally have two choices: help others or help themselves. Hurston's characters choose to they help others before attending to their own needs for survival.
The characters' actions are typical of Immanuel Kant's philosophy of the categorical imperative: actions are intrinsically good and do not find justification in their effects, nor does one expect compensation for his actions. In short, one could say that the very lack of thought on the part of Hurston's characters indicates the characters unyielding confidence in their beliefs and the basic moral goodness they possess.
The first event in Hurston's story is the evacuation of the muck as Lake Okechobee overtakes the characters' village. Hurston's characters could run away as fast as their legs can carry them, but they instead notify neighbors without delay. As Hurston describes it, "They cried out as best they could, `De lake is comin'!' and barred doors flew open and others joined them in flight..." (154). They expect nothing for their actions, but they inevitably save many families.
Moreover, although Motor Boat refuses to leave the high house, he still makes an offer to his friends which is as selfless as he can make it: "Mah mamma's house is yours" (155). Motor Boat acknowledges his friends' trouble, as well as his own, but he offers his mother's house as a lodging simply because it is the right thing to do.
Contrary to what might be contended, the white people on the Six Mile Bend bridge, however, are not necessarily demonstrating egoism. A finite area of bridge exists, and if white people were there first (156), then the white people can claim its use. On the other hand, they could be charitable by moving on after a rest and allowing the weary blacks to rest before continuing the journey to Palm Beach or high ground. Hurston could be again demonstrating her perceived differences between the races, but the degree of racism depends on readers' viewpoints.
Not too long afterwards, Tea Cake demonstrates benevolence as he notices a man trapped between an electrified tin roof and a rattlesnake. Tea Cake notices the man's predicament and stops to urge him to move to his left. Readers can presume the man was freed by taking Tea Cake's advice, but in the spirit of the categorical imperative, Tea Cake does not wait in expectation of laurels.
How to Cite this Page
"Free Essays - Doing the Right Thing in Their Eyes Were Watching God." 123HelpMe.com. 25 Aug 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Is the Government doing the right thing. The statement made by Honorable Jess A. Helms seems to be pretty clear when he says that the government, instead of giving sources to save the country, is actually providing freedom for crime rates to increase. “You can stand on the Capitol steps and almost throw a rock into neighborhoods where you cannot walk at night because of the violence that takes place nightly” (Helms 1). From this statement it is possible to understand why Helms is criticizing the government politics that are only spending money to combat violence, instead of spending money to prevent it.... [tags: essays research papers]
1165 words (3.3 pages)
- Throughout my life I have made some decisions and choices that I considered free. What is free choice. Free choice is being able to differentiate right from wrong and make a decision from the two. My theory is if someone is doing something no one forces or commands them to do therefore that person is acting freely. An example is the way that someone chooses to dress or the kind of music someone decides to listen to. What I did not consider in this theory is the fact that even though there is nobody pointing an arm commanding you to do certain things, however there are other factors that may affect the choices we make.... [tags: Free will, Causality, Choice, Metaphysics]
951 words (2.7 pages)
- The problem with free will according to Inwagen is a simple embarrassing one amongst philosophers. Bassically the presentation in any given argument is embeded with loose definitions and incoherent ideas. the root of the problem lies with in defining what freewill actually is since authors speaking on the matter have different terms for free will. these terms are things such as compatibilist free will and libertarian free will are sources of great confusion for the audience reading an author 's position on the matter.The problem here is elementary, in trying to deliver a point and convince an audience, it is simply the presenters responsibility to give clear definitions.... [tags: Free will, Determinism, Libertarianism]
1008 words (2.9 pages)
- Philosophers started to argue about the existence of free will thousands of years ago. The idea is does free will really exists. Do humans have control over their actions, behaviors, choices, desires and emotions. Some philosophers believe that yes, humans have self-control over their actions, and others say that no, there is no such a thing as self-control. According to determinist there is no such thing self or ego, and everything is out of our control. Let’s say my friend went to restaurant to eat his lunch, but he did not decide what to order.... [tags: Free will, Determinism, Mind, Thought]
1153 words (3.3 pages)
- The aim of this essay is to prove the reliability of and why Libertarianism is the most coherent of the three Free Will and Determinism views. It refers to the idea of human free will being true, that one is not determined, and therefore, they are morally responsible. In response to the quote on the essay, I am disagreeing with Wolf. This essay will be further strengthened with the help of such authors as C.A. Campell, R. Taylor and R.M. Chisholm. They present similar arguments, which essentially demonstrate that one could have done otherwise and one is the sole author of the volition.... [tags: Free Will, Determinism]
1618 words (4.6 pages)
- There are a lot of different things that come to mind when somebody thinks of the phrase Free Will, and there are some people who think that free will does not exists and that everything is already decided for you, but there are also people who believe in it and think that you are free to do as you please. An example that explains the problem that people have with free will is the essay by Walter T. Stace called “Is Determinism Inconsistent with Free Will?”, where Stace discusses why people, especially philosophers, think that free will does not exist.... [tags: Free will, Causality, Determinism, Indeterminism]
1493 words (4.3 pages)
- According to Confucianism and Daoism the state of doing the right things effortlessly is the ultimate goal in life. A Buddhist priest once told the story of a woman that had married the son of a very traditional family and that the son had decided to stay at their family’s house. The woman had to adapt to the new family and practiced the home rituals supervised by the mother-in-law who criticized the daughter-in-law’s performance. The daughter-in-law tried to cultivate herself, since she felt the need to have mutual respect for her mother-in-law.... [tags: Chinese philosophy, Taoism, Han Dynasty]
876 words (2.5 pages)
- Determinism vs. Free Will People believe that we have free-will since we are capable of deciding our own fate; however, everything you have done, are doing, and will do is subject to determinism. Although philosophers have debated between free-will and determinism for centuries, it is clear to me that determinism can’t be argued against in the long run. Because people believe they have a choice in most actions in life, they fail to understand that those “actions” were influenced by prior events.... [tags: Free will, Determinism, Causality, Metaphysics]
831 words (2.4 pages)
- Self-employment in Do the Right Thing Self-employment is often confused with capitalism. This is because the word capitalism has come to mean "free markets" and "free enterprise," rather than a specific type of economic system. However, the conflation of the term capitalism with these other terms reduces the concepts available for doing social scientific analysis. We need to be able to identify the traditional capitalist system: a system based on free wage labor creating products that are owned by capitalist directors who are distinct from these original wage laborers.... [tags: Working Films Movies Careers Essays]
1506 words (4.3 pages)
- Free Will Everything that happens has a cause and every cause has an effect. Effect strictly follows cause every time. This is an necessary logical tool for humans in understanding the world around them. Because humans understand the concept of time it means that they can then understand that some things always happen after other things. Spotting these patterns allows them to then deliberately cause certain effects by mimicking or instigating the cause they had previously observed.... [tags: Papers]
637 words (1.8 pages)
- Cultural Misunderstanding in A Passage to India
- Common Themes in Secret Sharer, Heart of Darkness, and Shadow Line
- Role of Women During the Time of Lysistrata
- The Very Unhappy Ending of Lord of the Flies
- Forbidden Knowledge in Digging for China
- The Biblical Flood of Genesis Based Upon the Flood of the Epic of Gilgamesh
Tea Cake, however, can not continue forever. As he stretches alongside the road-turned-causeway, Janie attempts to apprehend a piece of tar-paper roofing with which to shelter Tea Cake. In doing so, she is lifted away and into the murky water. Janie's action is righteous because she sacrifices herself, knowing that sheltering her husband is the right thing to do.
The overly-tired Tea Cake then swims to the cow onto which Janie has found refuge. Without thinking, he uses the categorical imperative to solve a moral dilemma. On one side are those who argue that life is sacred and that killing anything, much less a rabid dog which attempts to attack Janie, is wrong. Tea Cake thinks to the contrary: "(The dog) had to die or me.... Mah switch blade said it wuz him" (158-9). However, Tea Cake's expressed logic is in hindsight. At the time of the attack, he knew that killing the dog to save his wife was the intrinsically right thing to do. Despite Hurston's idée fixe for personification, Tea Cake's switch blade obviously did not directly say to kill the dog. Indeed, one could argue that Tea Cake is scapegoating the knife because of his lack of confidence in his own philosophy. He may be ashamed of killing the dog instead of only rescuing Janie and leaving the dog eventually to die. Of course, he might also be expressing modesty because he does not want to seem like he went out of his way to save Janie's life. In keeping with Tea Cake's usually modest character, the latter explanation may be more accurate.
In any event, the hurricane scene in Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God confirms the character's unbeknownst belief in Kant's categorical imperative. They never expect compensation for their actions, but commit them because they are the intrinsically right thing to do. Hurston's characters are essentially good humans who do not fret over philosophical debate, but rather they do what they know is right.