Gender Roles In Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

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The United States Constitution states that the country values liberty, life, and happiness for all of its citizens. These three values shape the ideal American experience. Most view it as living freely, where all men, women, and races are created equal, and where oppression of genders and races does not exist. In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, however, Zora Neale Hurston challenges the traditional view of this experience by illustrating how gender roles and racism change it, manifesting that it is not close to what the average citizen goes through, especially if he or she is black. Throughout the course of the book, Janie experiences oppression as a woman, revealing the hidden gender roles in American society that help form the American…show more content…
In Janie’s third marriage with Tea Cake, they encounter a white racist woman named Mrs. Turner. She is comfortable talking to Janie because she is part white and wants to bring her from the dark side to that of the light. One of her beliefs is that “it’s too may black folks already. We oughta lighten up the race” (Hurston 140). As a direct result of this belief, she feels hatred towards Tea Cake because he is a common black man, and tries to convince Janie to leave him for her brother. Through this, Hurston puts forth Tea Cake’s experience of discrimination based on his race as a microcosmic example of what takes place in American society. Part of Mrs. Turner’s views come from the fact that “it was distressing to emerge from her inner temple and find these black desecrators howling with laughter before the door” (145). For her, black people are too rambunctious and too foolish; she fails to recognize that the black people she knows simply have a different way of life than her, and, as a result, becomes prejudiced. Hurston demonstrates that racist whites like Mrs. Turner meet a few black people, decide that they are too loud, careless, or whatever trait they dislike, and characterize the entire race based on the traits of these few people. These kinds of whites disintegrate the American experience of equality, leaving behind a

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