Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

945 Words4 Pages

When someone’s story isn't public knowledge, the public tends to make up their story for them. In the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston uses third-person narration to demonstrate Janie’s story being told in a way of which she is not in control. By giving her story to Pheoby, Janie hopes to suppress the gossip and assumptions that have been made about her in order to earn her place in society. The role of storytelling demonstrates the necessity of a woman’s story in being part of a community.
When Janie doesn't have control over her story, the town’s assumptions about her lead to her isolation. Janie has just gotten back from Jacksonville after Tea Cake’s funeral when she passes the women from Eatonville sitting on their …show more content…

One day Joe beats Janie in the middle of the store for a small mistake she makes. Janie retaliates by commenting on Joe’s deteriorating body. After this Joe stops talking to her, and Janie confides in Pheoby. She cries to her that she “wouldn't do one thing tuh hurt nobody”(82). Even though it's her husband who is not understanding her, she goes to Pheoby for consolidation. This event mirrors the greater theme we see throughout the story, which is that Janie needs Pheoby to tell her story to those who she really wants to tell, because she feels that Pheoby is the only one who will actually listen to her, and Pheoby is the one everyone else will listen to. Amanda Bailey indicates that Janie and Pheoby are “indivisible and mutually dependent in the oral telling of Janie's story.” Although both gain something in the telling of the story, all Pheoby really gets is insight into Janie's life and perhaps more knowledge about relationships. Even so, Pheoby is happily married and does notdoesn't really need relationship advice. I would argue that Janie much more dependent on Pheoby as a listener and (future) storyteller than Pheoby is on Janie telling her story. Pheoby is the only one who can defy the assumptions made by the town and redirect Janie’s story as seen by the community. As Pheoby is talking with the other women in the town, they start to gossip about Janie. Pheoby defends her, pointing out that shes never done anything “so bad as y’all make out[.]” and “aint never harmed nobody”(3). The third-person narrative reveals how the people in the town despise her for irrational reasons, and how it is up to Pheobe to suppress those reasons. Janie is painted as someone who is not part of the neighborhood, so she needs someone who is to tell her story in a way that will be listened to. Bailey explores this relationship, justifying that Janie’s “‘extraordinary talents’ … are not

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