How Does Hurston Use Vernacular Language In Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Lead author of the Harlem Renaissance and first African-American anthropologist studying his own culture, Zora Neale Hurston is, in many ways, an exceptional writer. Indeed, unlike others such as Robert Wright or Alain Locke, Hurston does not deny the cultural legacy that represents the black folklore, folklore that will influence both the form and substance of his art. As a trained anthropologist, Hurston has been able to capture the American black culture and use it through vernacular oral transcriptions. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, we will analyze the mobilization of language that Hurston uses in order to create a pictorial world. Firstly, we will explore the use of vernacular language. Then we will show the importance of rhetorical figure of speech used by the author. We…show more content…
The dialogs retransmitted by our protagonist are indeed interspersed with Standard Written English. Thereby, one of the most commented characteristic of the novel is the split style of narrative made by Hurston. The book begins with an omniscient, third-person narrator’s voice. The language used is not vernacular, but an intellectual and figurative one, full of rhetorical figures of speech and poetic devices such as metaphors. This split of narrative allows the author to depict a vivid picture of the décor, but it also add a voice which anchors the entire novel without denaturing the vernacular dialogs of Janie’s story with elements of context or details. The alternation between Standard Written English and Black Vernacular English reflects one of the novel’s central themes: the importance of controlling language. The scene of the pear tree is a concise example of this oscillation: from barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously. How? Why? It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again”
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