Women In Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

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A woman is arguing with her husband at a barbeque. Her husband, red-faced and veiny eyed, smacks her upside the face. Her head slams to the side, but the woman stays silent. The air is filled with whispers of how the woman is put in her place. Today the crowd would be stunned with disgust towards the man. In the discussion of marriage, one controversial issue has been abuse. In the 1800’s there was uproar over the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. Some women claimed that female abuse was finally being exposed. However, many feminists were outraged that Hurston displayed the problem of abuse so lightly. They claimed she downplayed the severity of husbands abusing their wives. In Hurston’s novel, Janie starts as a young…show more content…
Hurston’s book displayed the controversial topic of abuse in the family. Many writers were afraid to touch the subject, but Hurston was able to introduce the problem. There are many instances of abuse from beginning to tend in the narrative such as whipping. Mrs. Turner is trying to set up Janie with her brother, Mr. Turner. In response, Tea Cake whips Janie to show his dominance. Sop-de-Bottom laments his jealousy, “Lawd! Wouldn’t Ah love tuh whip uh tender woman lak Janie! Ah bet she don’t even holler. She jus’ cries, eh Tea Cake?... Mah Janie is uh high time woman and useter things” (Hurston 148). The maltreatment of Janie is demonstrated with whipping. Not only does the story exhibit physical abuse, emotional abuse appears through Janie’s tears. The use of different wrong doings allows readers to view the abuse displayed in the 1800’s. However, many others and I can attest to the novel not encompassing the dilemma of abuse enough. The men, converting it into an ideal, romanticize the abuse of women. The men are envious that Janie takes her abuse so quietly. The concept of maltreatment is made to seem common in normal life. This sends out an anti-feminist message to those who read the novel. Even the main character, Janie, doesn’t regularly stand up to the injuries she sustains. Janie lets Tea Cake whip her, because she loves him. This sends the wrong message to women of the time. It makes it seems as if taking abuse is ok if its from your lover. Abuse appears throughout the book, but never shows the truly horrid side. The women don’t show any signs of long-term signs of abuse such as depression or physical injuries. It seems they get hit or yelled at and don’t sustain any long-term
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