Free Essays - Doing the Right Thing in Their Eyes Were Watching God

Free Essays - Doing the Right Thing in Their Eyes Were Watching God

Length: 751 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

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

MLA Citation:
"Free Essays - Doing the Right Thing in Their Eyes Were Watching God." 16 Aug 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Is the Government doing the right thing? Essay example

- 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]

Free Essays
1165 words (3.3 pages)

Self-employment in Do the Right Thing Essay

- 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]

Research Papers
1506 words (4.3 pages)

Free Will and Determinism Views Essay

- 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]

Research Papers
1618 words (4.6 pages)

Essay on What Does It Take to Be a Hero

- Webster’s definition of a hero is, a person who is admired for great or brave acts ("Hero."). This is a basic definition because in actuality the definition of hero is more complex. A hero is someone who is selfless. In spite of the dangers or fears of what may happen, a hero will still do the right thing. A hero is someone who sees something that needs to be done and does it no matter the cost to themselves. In order for someone to be considered a hero they must be completely selfless. They must be so at all times; even when it is difficult to do so, he must put others before themselves....   [tags: selfless, right, thing, mindset, help]

Research Papers
561 words (1.6 pages)

The Right to Bear Arms Essay

- In 1791 the United States government added the second amendment to the constitution. As stated in the Constitution, this amendment states that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. In the early years of the United States it was common for people to walk around with their rifles or revolvers. Nobody really gave a second look or glared at them like they were doing something wrong. Openly carrying a firearm was normal in those times. Today, almost 223 years later, people are allowed to conceal their firearms from one another....   [tags: second ammendment to the US Constitution]

Research Papers
1213 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about Free Will

- 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]

Research Papers
637 words (1.8 pages)

Euthanasia: A Good Thing Essay

- Ending the life of a critically ill person by lethal injection is known as Euthanasia or “mercy-killing”. The Greek word Euthanasia’s meaning is good death, “eu” meaning good, and “thanasia”, meaning death.( B.A. Robinson) The right of death by lethal injection should be the choice of the person whom wants this process done, not the doctors or the society, in which this is called immoral. When only having so long to live and having to live that small amount of time in severe pain there should be an option for the patient to choose Euthanasia....   [tags: Healthcare]

Research Papers
881 words (2.5 pages)

Spinoza And Free Will Essay

- There are many great philosophical ideas and questions that are known and of course unknown. One of the questions that really enticed my interest was the question of whether or not we have free will. I myself was once a believer of people having free will and doing what I want was my choice and my choice alone. However, after careful consideration and lectures I have been reversed in how I believe in free will. Is there any free will though. Many people would say yes there is and of course there are some who believe that free will is a fallacy and not to be believed....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
986 words (2.8 pages)

Free-Will Defense Essay

- Free-Will Defense The Free Will Defense is an attempted solution to the problem of moral evil. Human beings are gifted with free will by God as a condition for genuine morality, trust, love, and the like, though it also makes possible the introduction of moral evil into the world. There are various questions that are asked with the question of God. Many ask questions like- why did God give humans the ability of free will knowing that they will abuse it. Is free will a condition for real humanhood....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
639 words (1.8 pages)

Free Speech

-           In order to find truth to anything, one must make multiple suggestions, ask many questions, and sometimes ponder the unspeakable. Without doing so, there would be no process of elimination; therefore, truth would be virtually unattainable. Now, in our attempts to either find truth, express our beliefs and opinions, or generally use the rights we are given constitutionally, we are often being criticized and even reprimanded. Our freedom to voice our opinion(s) is being challenged, as critics of free speech are taking offense to what seems like anything and everything merely controversial and arguably prejudice....   [tags: Freedom of Speech Essays]

Research Papers
1253 words (3.6 pages)

Related Searches

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.


Return to