In the novel How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas Foster discusses the importance of Geography in literature, particularly the idea that “ when writers send characters south, it’s so they could run amok” (Foster 179). This idea emerges in Zora Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God as Janie travels to discover her identity. Janie feels tied down by the people in her life, particularly her husband Joe in Eatonville. She comments that he “wanted me tuh sit wid folded hands and sit dere. And Ah’d sit dere wid de walls creepin’ up on me and squeezin’ all de life out of me” (Hurston 112). Joe would treat her as a decoration on the wall, not a human being, leaving Janie feeling trapped and unknowing of who she is. According to Foster,
In the story “their eyes were watching god” by Zora Neale Hurston, A feminist lens portrays that Joe’s greedy lifestyle limited his wife’s opportunities, thus defining him as a man who is selfishly obsessed with Money and power, clearly seen through the Marxist lens.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Zora Neale Hurston quotes: “She knew now that
1)Hurston’s opening paragraph in “How it Feels to Be Colored Me” functions as a joke that aims to lessen the stigma around discussing race in the 1920s. The phrase “extenuating circumstances” is defined as lessening the seriousness of a situation and therefore reducing any consequence that may emerge from her controversial stance. Hurston’s assertion that her “grandfather on the mother’s side was not an Indian chief” is intended to bring humor to the African American tendency to claim Native American ancestry in order to raise their social status. Her sarcastic juxtaposition of accepting her color versus colored people distancing themselves from it creates a colloquial tone that illustrates her defiance of social stigmas and norms. This biting opening paragraph intrigues the reader and allows her audience to grasp the overall purpose of the
Zora Neale Hurston once said that “No matter how far away a person can go the horizon is till way beyond you”, and in her fictional novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God Hurston takes the audience through Janie Crawford’s journey to her horizon. The novel, published in 1937 follows Janie through her three marriages to Logan Killicks, Joe Starks, and Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods. Each of Janie’s relationships move her closer and closer to her dreams symbolized as her horizon. Through her relationships with Logan, Joe, and Tea Cake, Janie gains a sense of perspective, freedom, and opportunity.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston wrote in a way that conveyed a message through her characters, using a storytelling "frame" to express her ideas. Hurston did not stop by means to get her point across. Hurston uses Janie’s thoughts and actions to represents how during Reconstruction, African Americans were trying to find their identities and achieve their dreams of independence.
Foster develops the concept that an illness is never just an illness in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. This is evident in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God through the symbolism of the illnesses that impact Janie’s life. Foster explains that a prime literary disease “should have strong symbolic or metaphorical possibilities” (Foster 224). Hurston utilizes this concept in her novel, the characters developing illnesses that represent Janie’s freedom and independence. Janie, bound to her husband, Jody, and obliged to do as he asked, looked for a way to freedom, but only felt more trapped. Her path to freedom finally appeared when Jody began to have kidney failure. On his deathbed, Janie was finally able to stand up to him, commenting that “ all dis bowin’ down, all dis obedience under yo’ voice- dat ain’t whut Ah rushed off
In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, the pear tree is a major symbol for Janie and her growth throughout the book. Throughout the whole story, the pear tree keeps returning for Janie, in person and in her mind. The pear tree, not only holding Janie’s experience of a first kiss, holds many memories and symbols for Janie in the story. Having this tree helps Janie through many hard times, and gives her something to think about in her times of need. The pear tree serves as a means of characterizing Janie throughout the novel by symbolizing lessons for Janie, Janie’s life, and giving Janie a goal for life.
Zora Hurston uses vivid imagery, natural diction, and several literary tools in her essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”. Hurston’s use of imagery, diction, and literary tools in “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” contributes to, and also compliments, the essay’s theme which is her view on life as a “colored” person. Throughout “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” Hurston carefully incorporates aspects of her African American culture in an effort to recapture her ancestral past. Hurston’s use of imagery, diction, and use of literary tools shape her essay into a piece of Harlem Renaissance work.
Though Janie faces loss multiple times through the deaths of these people that she loves dearly, she gains qualities in herself which she can use later in her life. In her first relationship with Joe, Janie is continually oppressed in terms of when she’s allowed to speak and how she controls her own appearance but this oppression only works to shape her personality into one that can speak back and be more assertive in front of anyone. By having to be in a situation where she has to choose whether to shoot Tea Cake, she becomes more resilient and proactive. Only through the loss of youthfulness and two loved ones is Janie able to truly discover who she, conveying Hurston’s larger message that self-discovery is fueled through loss and
As Maria Tai Wolff says “for telling to be successful, it must become a presentation of sights with words. The best talkers are “big picture talkers”. For Hurston, the construction of African American identity requires a voice that can make you see, a voice that celebrates the visible presence of black bodies.
Hurston’s usage of natural objects in the world, such as a pear tree, horizon, and hurricane, correlate with one another allowing the reader analyze the three different marriages that take place in various events Janie goes through in her life. From viewing the act of sex through pollination, a destination holding dreams, and o the eyes of death staring back at her, these symbols showcase a coming of age story.
The pursuit of dreams has played a big role in self-fulfillment and internal development and in many ways, an individual 's reactions to the perceived and real obstacles blocking the path to a dream define the very character of that person. This theme is evident in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, which is about the search for identity. A woman of a mixed ethnicity resides in several communities, each playing an important role and serve as crucial influences on her life. During the story, she endures two failed relationships and one good relationship, dealing with disappointment, death, the wrath of nature and life’s unpredictability.