In 1920s Harlem, swing music reigned, great works of art and literature were being created every day, African American creative expression was at its height - The Harlem Renaissance was alive. Zora Neale Hurston, author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, was one such black expressionist at this time. Several characters in her celebrated novel demonstrate the ideas of the Harlem renaissance, but most notable of these characters is Janie, the strong, Black woman that the novel is based around. The novel tells the story of Janie’s journey for love, and the heartbreak and misfortune that she encounters along the way to the “horizon”. Zora Neale Hurston’s writing is both a reflection and a departure from the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance The Harlem …show more content…
The idea of duality, or “twoness” of the consciousness, was a concept coined by W.E.B. DuBois in the Harlem Renaissance. According to the DuBois, the term is used to describe an individual whose identity is divided into several facets, but can also be used to describe the psycho-social divisions in America at this time. “All these things set her aside from Negroes.. Janie’s coffee-and-cream complexion and her luxurious hair made Mrs. Turner forgive her for wearing overalls like the other women who worked in the fields” (page 140). Janie is multi racial, half Black and half White. This gives her distinctive Black and White physical features, and many see her as either one or the other. This shows a certain duality in her, having dark skin, but the long, straight hair typical of white people. Another example of this “twoness” in Zora Neale Hurston’s writing is the she writes the dialogue in the novel, and how that contrasts with the narration. The dialogue is in an intense Southern dialect, whereas the narration presents itself as very educated, and collegiate. The difference shows a distinct dichotomy between the two, and reflects the Harlem Renaissance in two ways: It acknowledges African American roots, a key part of the Harlem Renaissance, and it also shows the educated, upper class, elite dictation and vernacular of the writers in the Harlem …show more content…
One example of this deviation is the harsh depiction of African American men in the novel. The men that Janie encounters in the novel all have quite apparent flaws. Joe Starks, Janie’s second husband, is controlling and jealous. Her third husband, Tea Cake, has gambling issues, and begins to beat her. Hurston also offers commentary on Black men through the character Mrs. Turner. Mrs. Turner’s negative view of African American men is quite clearly articulated in chapter 16, “ ‘Ah can’t stand ‘em mahself…’Tain’t de poorness, it’s de color and de features… and whoopin’ and hollerin’ and laughin’ over nothin’?’ ” (page 141) Zora Neale Hurston’s ideas about Black men, which are not positive in the book, are betrayals of the goal of an enhanced self image, a popular aim of the Harlem Renaissance. Dr. Mary Dowd explores the idea of the self image in the Harlem Renaissance in her article, "What Were the Goals of the Harlem Renaissance?”. She writes that many writers and artists in this era aimed to empower African Americans, and aimed to create positive images of Blacks in writing and art, who show admirable traits. However, Hurston’s portrayal of these men is less than admirable, and defeats the purpose of this
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Additionally, Hurston wrote this story in regards to her own life, but in a different way. She married and divorced three husbands and, at age forty-four, fell in love with twenty-three-year-old Percy Punter—like Janie and Tea Cakes, they also had an age gap, and Janie going through different marriages as well. When he asked her to marry him, she refused because she "had things clawing inside [her] that must be said. " She wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God, trying in its pages "to embalm all the tenderness of [her] passion for him
“Their Eyes Were Watching God Hurston, Zora Neale” The book “Their Eyes Were Watching God Hurston”, was written during the Harlem Renaissance, which was a period of time between the end of World War 1 and the middle of the 1920s where the cultural, social, and artistic explosion took place. Harlem was considered a cultural center for the artist, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars (Jim Crow). This book was the first novel to be written by a black woman in that Era.
Thanks to this disparity between black and white people as well as the use of the African American Vernacular English, Hurston cherishes the black culture. Importantly, Benesch claims that: “if it were not for the abundant use of Black English, which in itself ties the text to a specific cultural background, Their Eyes Were Watching God night easily [...] refer to ubiquitous problems of human existence” (Benesch, 1988: 628). The problem of the relations between the black and the white in the novel is also discussed by Jürgen C. Wolter (2001). He argues that the progression visible in Janie`s character symbolizes the change in thinking about skin color.
Zora Neale Hurston was an American novelist, anthropologist, folklorist, and short story writer and is closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston grew up in one of America’s first all-black community’s this gave her a sense of independence, freedom and boldness that many African-Americans especially females did not have during this time, this distinguishes her from other writers of her time and it is clearly reflected in her work. In Hurston’s time she wrote a plethora of short stories, plays, essays and 4 published novels. Of all of the works she published and accomplishments she had, she is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. This novel tells the story of Janie Crawford a young African-American girl growing
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” is a novel written by Zora Neale Hurston. The novel portrays Janie, a middle aged black woman who tells her friend Pheoby Watson what has happened to her husband Tea Cake and her adventure. The resulting telling of her story portrays most of the novel. Throughout the novel, Zora Neale Hurston presents the theme of love, or being in a relationship versus freedom and independence, that being in a relationship may hinder one’s freedom and independence. Janie loves to be outgoing and to be able to do what she wants, but throughout the book the relationships that she is in with Logan,Jody and Tea Cake, does not allow her to do that.
The black culture is very diverse in different parts of the world-even in different parts of the state. Janie as moved throughout Florida to places such as West Florida, Eatonville, and the Everglades. Residing in these different places helps develop and define the character of Janie. Throughout Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie experiences many variations of black culture that helps build her character as she travels through Florida.
Hurston divided her essay into four parts to describe different parts of her life. How she was a happy child in a small black town in Florida, how she was a lonely child in a larger white dominate town but was still hopeful even though she was bullied as indicated when she was reminded that she is “the grand-daughter of slaves” (Hurston 266), how she grew into an adult and acknowledged the racial differences and the isolation but did not let that break her and finally an acknowledgement that she is just a person equal amongst everyone else no matter their color as she compares herself to a “brown bag of miscellany propped against a wall with other bags” (Hurston 268) of different colors not just white or brown. The images help demonstrate
Published in the early 20th century, the short story “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston was one of her most popular works. Meant to tell a story on Hurston's perspective towards gender, she introduces the two main characters, Delia and Sykes, who are in an abusive relationship. Delia is described as a hardworking wife who supports her unfaithful partner Sykes, who on the other hand is abusive and deceptive, spending more of his time and money with his mistress. Nevertheless, Hurston uses this unique character plot to express her thoughts on gender during this time period.
Zora Neale Hurston’s writing in Their Eyes Were Watching God, reflects the Harlem Renaissance through Janie 's individuality, and departs from the Harlem Renaissance with the common recurrence of black woman empowerment. In the novel, Hurston reflects the ideas of the Harlem renaissance with the ways in which Janie rebels and goes against norms for women.
Through figurative and direct language in her writing you can see Hurston’s reflection and a departure from the Harlem Renaissance. An example of departure comes from figurative language in the essay “How it Feels to Be Colored Me”. The essay states “I feel like a brown bag of miscellany,”(line 15). This sentence shows
Hurston tells the story of Janie, a black woman who because of her grandmother experiences and beliefs was forced to marry into a loveless marriage with Logan Killicks, a hard-working farmer who had 60 acres of land and could provide for Janie. This marriage ended when Janie ran away with Joe Stark, a man that she fell in love with and thought could give her the love absent between her and Logan. But Janie soon realized that her second marriage wouldn’t turn out better than her first. Joe was just as controlling and degrading as Logan. He hardly expressed his love for Janie and spoke to her like an incompetent child.
Porch. A covered shelter projecting in front of the entrance of a building. This inanimate object served to develop various themes throughout the book, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. She reveals the theme of jealousy and envy, gender inequality and a sense of community with the help of the porch.
The Harlem Renaissance was a time of diversity in art and literature. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is a story about a woman who finds her way through society, and this journey that she takes has strong reflections of the time and place that the author wrote the story on. Hurston reflected some of the aspects which she saw on a daily basis in the Harlem Renaissance in her work. However for all the time she reflected over parts of the Harlem Renaissance there were some parts and aspects of the story which clearly were meant as a way to depart and get out of the mindset of the Harlem Renaissance. Through an understanding of the Harlem Renaissance it is clear that Zora Neale Hurston’s writing is both a reflection and a departure of the Harlem
In the Harlem Renaissance, writers tried to convey that even if society portrayed something as abnormal it does not have to be. In “The Gilded Six Bits,” Zora Neale Hurston creates the idea of otherness in Missie May by cheating on her husband, just so she could receive the “gold coin” for him. In “How it Feels to Be Colored Me,” Hurston creates the idea of otherness in herself by not knowing about how society views her race, and going against it. It has been shown that Hurston creates otherness within her characters. In fact, much of her writings are autobiographical most of the time.
During the post-civil war era, most “colored people did not know how to be free” (Houston Hartsfield Holloway). The abolishment of slavery was a major event that led blacks to desire fulfillment in life. Zora Neale Hurston demonstrates this through Janie’s life and the people she encounters. Each character provides a different outlook on life and their values are distinct from Janie’s. The novel questions what true happiness is via Janie’s quest to find love and her influences.