Similarities Between Their Eyes Were Watching God And A Lesson Before Dying

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Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Ernest J. Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying, while completely different in terms of plot and writing style, are both prominent american literary works. The similarities that they do share are the key reasons why the novels are such enduring works. Their novels both contain a number of similar themes, impressive uses of the different figurative elements, and (arguably the most important similarity) well-written characters that are dynamic and unique. Hurston and Gaines' characters Janie and Jefferson, through their evolving relationships and the personal growth they illustrate throughout their stories, describe the necessity of adversity and human connections in order to achieve self respect. …show more content…

Janie, though she is inspired by the beauty of the symbiotic “marriage” between the pear tree and the bees, marries Logan Killicks to appease Nanny, who symbolizes society they are living in. Nanny is described as the “standing roots of some old tree...torn away by storm. Foundation of ancient power that no longer mattered” (Hurston 12). Nanny and the society she symbolizes, is long-established and twisted, still believing that they hold power and stubbornly clinging to the new generation with their stifling roots. With such a society, there is no room for growth. Janie initially gives up her aspirations to find love in order to fulfill those societal expectations. Similarly, Jefferson begins his time in his cell ignorant and angry, …show more content…

As Janie becomes a more self-assured woman, she drifts further and further away from the cultural norm. This is illustrated through the different relationships she develops on her quest. She begins reliant upon Nanny and marries Logan, both who represent the older generation with more traditional values. She then runs away from the “protection” that Logan provides for Joe Starks, who represents stability and ambition. Janie’s first two disastrous marriages help her eliminate the possibility of ever finding happiness with a more “conventional” man, one that society would approve of. When she runs off and marries Tea Cake, she becomes a pariah to the people of Eatonville, further distancing herself from society. By the time her quest is through and her relationship with Tea Cake is over, Janie returns to Eatonville, confident in herself. The townspeople “had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences…[and now] They sat in judgment” (Hurston 1). The people conforming to society feel the need to assert their own power through words and gossip. They more cruel and judgmental because they feel like they have no control over their lives. In contrast, when Janie is faced with their judgment, she purposefully “kept walking straight on to her gate” (Hurston 2). She is reserved but

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