The Pursuit Of Dreams In Zora Neale Hurstons Their Eyes Were Watching God

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The Pursuit Of Dreams In Zora Neale Hurstons Their Eyes Were Watching God



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Their Eyes Were Watching God: Crash Course Literature 301

Although she does not outwardly oppose Nanny or Logan, it becomes clear that with each experience Janie is increasingly cognizant of her own needs. This revelation is apparent when she confronts Joe on his deathbed and then burns the head rags he had insisted she wear. She hated the woman who had twisted her so in the name of love. Janie finally obtains wealth from the death of her husband Joe, not from the fruits of her labor. Affluence among blacks was not an easy achievement and yet Janie easily left her elevated position in the community to begin a new life with Tea Cake.

Hurston implies that the pursuit of individual dreams can also bring intellectual freedom, an achievement infinitely more valuable than material wealth. Despite the obvious age differences and social status Janie at last seems to have found true love. So her soul crawled out of its hiding place. Through her three marriages Janie learns that love, passion, and violence are forever intertwined.

Tea Cake, the love of her life, provides another example of a male dominated society, which asserts its possession of women through physical abuse. Even when Janie and Tea Cake are at their happiest, living and working in the everglades, the notion of racism and class distinction are ever present. It is here that are introduced to the character called Mrs. This character internalizes racism and openly hates blacks.

She believes that light-skinned blacks are closer to whites and therefore superior to those of darker skin and for this reason she tries to persuade Janie to leave Tea Cake and marry her brother so that they could pass as a white couple. Turner stands as a stark example of what Janie could have become under the conditioning of Joe Starks and her position of Mrs. Mayor in the Eatonville community. Hurston had a wealthy patron who supported her, giving her the freedom to travel throughout the southern states collecting folk tales to incorporate into her works.

Far more numerous are the contemporary authors who have praised the book than those few who initially criticized it. Valade, Regardless of all the praise of her works Hurston herself made the most poignant affirmation in There is no great sorrow damned up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. Logan has traditional views on marriage. He believes that a man should be married to a woman, and that she should be his property and work hard.

Everyone contributes to tending the family land. He believes Janie should work well from dawn to dusk, in the field as well as the house, and do as she is told. She is analogous to a mule or other working animal. As such, his prospects at finding a mate based on attraction and his age are slim, thus the reason for approaching Nanny early on about an arrangement of marriage to Janie when she comes of age.

During the course of their brief marriage, Logan attempts to subjugate Janie with his words and attempts to make her work beyond the gender roles in a typical marriage. He does not appreciate her streaks of independence when she refuses his commands and he uses her family history to try to manipulate her into being submissive to him. Joe "Jody" Starks is Janie's second husband. He is charismatic, charming and has big plans for his future. Janie, being young and naive, is easily seduced by his efforts to convince her to leave Logan. Ultimately, Joe is successful in gaining Janie's trust and so she joins him on his journey. Joe views Janie as a princess or royalty to be displayed on a pedestal.

Because of her youth, inexperience, and desire to find true love, Jody easily controls and manipulates her into submitting to his male authority. Joe Starks is a man who is strong, organized and a natural leader. He has money from his time working for white men and he now aims to settle in a new community made up of African-Americans, a place in its infancy where he can make a name for himself. Joe quickly establishes himself as an authoritative figure around the town which has no determined name or governance of any kind when he and Janie arrive. With the money he has, he buys land, organizes the townsfolk, becomes the owner-operator of the general store and post office, and is eventually named Mayor of Eatonville.

Joe strives for equality with white men, [17] particularly the mayor of the white town across the river from Eatonville. To attain this status he requires nice things: the largest white house, a nice desk and chair, a gilded spitoon , and a beautiful wife. He is a larger-than-life character and during their time in Eatonville, he has grown an equally large belly and taken up the habit of chewing nice cigars , both of which cement his status with the locals as an important man around town.

Joe, like most of the men in the book, believes that women are incapable of thinking and caring for themselves. He likens them to children and livestock that need constant tending and direction. God, they sho don't think none fo themselves. Jody is a jealous man, and because of this he grows more and more possessive and controlling of Janie. He expects her to dress a certain way buying her the finest of clothes, with tight corsets and requires that she wear her long, beautiful hair—symbolic of her free spirit and femininity— covered and up in a bun, so as not to attract too much unwanted attention from the other men in Eatonville. He considers her long hair to be for his enjoyment alone.

He restricts her from being friendly with the other townswomen, requiring her to behave in a separate and superior manner. Tea Cake is Janie's third and final husband. He is her ideal partner in her search for true love. He is charismatic, charming, funny, and creative with a tendency to embellish stories. To Janie, he is larger than life, wise, and genuinely cares for her. Tea Cake is loving towards Janie and respectful of her as her own individual person. Unlike her previous two marriages, Tea Cake never stops trying to make her happy. He is more than willing to share with her what he has learned from his own experiences and show her the greater world outside of her own existence. He enjoys being with Janie and playing the role of a teacher. Through Tea Cake, Janie learns to shoot a rifle, play checkers, and fish among other activities.

However, Tea Cake shows tendencies of patriarchal dominance and psychological abuse towards Janie. For instance, he keeps her from working with the rest of the people down on the muck because he believes she is above common folk. Consequently, until Janie asserts herself with Tea Cake and joins the others in working, [23] she gains a bit of a reputation for thinking herself better than everyone else. What differentiates him from Joe in this regard is that Janie regularly confronts him and he acquiesces to her demand that she not be excluded from aspects of his life.

Another tendency that Tea Cake shares with Joe is his jealousy and need to maintain some amount of control over Janie. When he overhears another woman speaking poorly to Janie about Tea Cake and attempting to set her up with her brother, Tea Cake decides to take matters into his own hands. First, he discusses with Janie, a conversation he overheard between her and Mrs. He criticizes Mrs. Turner's appearance like Janie, she is mixed-race and then successfully executes an elaborate plan to ruin her establishment. Finally, he slaps Janie around in front of Mrs. Turner and others to show them that he is in charge and to assert his ownership over her. In the end, Tea Cake plays the role of hero to Janie when he saves her from drowning and being attacked by a rabid dog.

Tea Cake himself is bitten and eventually succumbs to the disease. Not able to think rationally and enraged with jealousy, he physically attacks Janie and she is forced to shoot and kill Tea Cake. Therefore, she effectively ends her emotional attachment to the men in her life and the desire to seek out and realize her dream of true love. Janie is constantly searching for her own voice and identity throughout the novel. She is often without a voice in relation to her husbands as she will not fight back.

Janie is also encounter situations that make her feel that her value as an African-American woman is little to none. She is seen as distinct from other women in the novel, who follow traditions and do not find a life independent of men. Janie's physical appeal becomes a basis of Starks and Tea Cake to have jealousy and belittle her looks. Starks orders Janie to cover her long hair as other men are attracted to it.

Similarly, Tea Cake remarks on Janie's lighter skin and her appeal to Mrs. Turner's brother. But Janie begins to feel liberated in her marriage with Tea Cake because he treats her as an equal and mostly does not look down on her. As a result, she loves him more than she did the other two spouses. Janie does not find complete independence as a woman until after the death of Tea Cake. She returns to Eatonville with her hair down and she sits on her own porch chatting with her friend Pheoby.

By the end of the novel, she has overcome traditional roles and cultivates an image of the "liberated black woman. Janie grew up under the care of her grandmother, Nanny. Her experiences as a slave and freedwoman shaped the way Nanny saw the world. She hoped to protect Janie, by forcing her to marry Logan Killicks, although he was older and not attractive. Janie followed her grandmother's advice but found that it wouldn't be as easy to love him as Nanny had suggested. African Americans believed in marriage during the early 20th century because they had been prevented from such legal protection under slavery. After the death of Starks, Janie meets Tea Cake and they fall in love. Her community thought he was a broke nobody and were suspicious of him.

Tea Cake wasn't the perfect man, but better than expected by the community of Eatonville. During the early 20th century, the African-American community asked African-American women to set aside self-realization and self-affirmation values. They imposed male-dominated values and often controlled who women married. Starks initially seemed to be good for Janie, but later beat her several times, in an effort to exert his authority over her.

Domestic abuse was not entirely disapproved by the African-American community, and men thought it was acceptable to control their women this way. Tea Cake showed his respect of her. The early s was a time in which patriarchal ideals were accepted and seen as the norm. In her relationships, she is being ordered around by the man, but she did not question it, whether in the kitchen or bedroom. After the death of Starks, Janie goes to his funeral wearing black and formal clothes. But for Tea Cake's funeral, she wears workers' blue overalls, showing that she cared less for what society thought of her as she got older.

In addition, critics say that Tea Cake was the vehicle for Janie's liberation. Tea Cake offered her a partnership; he didn't see her as an object to be controlled and possessed through marriage. Throughout the novel, Hurston vividly displays how African American women are valued, or devalued, in their marital relationships. By doing so, she takes the reader on a journey through Janie's life and her marriages. Janie formed her initial idea of marriage off the beautiful image of unity she witnessed between a pear tree and a bee.

This image and expectation sets Janie up for disappointment when it came time to marry. From her marriage to Logan Killicks to Tea Cake, Janie was forced to acknowledge where she stood as a powerless female in her relationship. Starting with her marriage to Logan, Janie was put in a place where she was expected to prove her value with hard work. On top of all the physical labor expected from her, Janie endured constant insults and physical beatings from her male counterparts. Hoping for more value, Janie decides to leave Logan and run off with Joe Starks. However, in reaction to this decision, she's only faced with more beating and devaluement. Joe expected her stay in the home, work in the kitchen, and when she was in public, Janie was expected to cover her hair and avoid conversation with the locals.

With one last hope, Janie engaged in a marriage with Tea Cake, a younger man, and things finally seemed to look up for her, even though she was still expected to help in the fields and tend to her womanly duties. Overall, throughout her marriages, Janie experienced the hardships that most African American women went through at that time. From the physical labor to the physical beatings, Janie was presented with the life that a woman was expected to live.

Janie was able to feel like a woman in her third marriage with Tea Cake. In her first marriage with Logan she was being controlled by her husband. She didn't feel like a woman in her first marriage. She didn't feel any love or affection either. In her second marriage with Jody, she was able to experience independence as a woman. With Jody's death, she became in charge of the store and his property. She was able to experience freedom and an economic stable life. She learned about ownership, self determination, self ruling, and home ruling. In her last marriage with Tea Cake Janie experienced true love. But she also learned who she was as an African American woman. Throughout her marriages she learned how to value herself as a woman, an African American woman, and a hard working woman.

The novel is written in dialect and colloquial language that expresses it as a story of a black woman from Southern United States. Throughout the novel, Janie serves both as protagonist as well as occasional narrator, detailing the events of her life, her three marriages, and the aftermath of each, that eventually lead to her return to Eatonville. This is done with two contrasting writing styles, one in standard English prose when the narration is done in third person , and the other making use of black Southern vernacular in dialogue. The theme of having a voice and being able to speak out is a prevalent theme throughout the novel. During her first two marriages to Logan Killicks and Joe Starks, Janie is subjugated and held under their rule, the former comparing her to another mule to work his field and the latter keeping her in a powerless position of domesticity.

Throughout both marriages she finds herself without the ability to speak out or to express herself, and when she tries she is usually shut down. This leaves her feeling like a "rut in the road," the isolation taking its toll until she finally confronts Joe and attacks his ego with a verbal assault against his manhood. The effect this takes is that it leaves Joe resenting Janie and in effect destroys what is left of their marriage. When Janie marries Tea Cake, we see how language affects the way Janie begins to feel about herself. The way Tea Cake speaks to her allows her to find the freedom in her own voice and to begin to learn how to use it.

We are able to see how language helps Janie grow as a person once she learns that her voice is her power. While the novel is written about Black people in the South, it is not primarily a book about a racist society. Nanny is the first character to discuss the effects of slavery. Dat's one of de hold-backs of slavery. Starks is compared to the master of a plantation, as he has a huge house in the centre of the town. But his plans seem to result in a town where people impose their own hierarchy. He don't have tuh. Us keeps our own selves down. This woman compliments Janie on her light skin and European features, from her mixed-race ancestry.

Turner disapproves of her marriage to Tea Cake, as he is darker skinned and more "African" looking. She described falling in love with the man as "a parachute jump". Like Jody, Punter was sexually dominant and sometimes violent. She wrote in her autobiography that she had "tried to embalm all the tenderness of [her] passion for him. In , a decade before writing Their Eyes Were Watching God , Hurston traveled south to collect folk songs and folk tales through an anthropological research fellowship arranged by her Barnard College mentor Franz Boas. The town's weekly announced in , "Colored People of the United States: Solve the great race problem by securing a home in Eatonville, Florida, a Negro city governed by negroes.

Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God while living in Belle Glade, at the home of Harvey Poole, who, as manager of one of the local labor camps , informed her tremendously about bean picking, and the labors of African-Americans on the muckland. Miss Hurston seems to have no desire whatsoever to move in the direction of serious fiction… [She] can write; but her prose is cloaked in that facile sensuality that has dogged Negro expression since the days of Phyllis Wheatley Her characters eat and laugh and cry and work and kill; they swing like a pendulum eternally in that safe and narrow orbit in which America likes to see the Negro live: between laughter and tears. Ralph Ellison said the book contained a "blight of calculated burlesque.

Alain Locke wrote in a review: "when will the Negro novelist of maturity, who knows how to tell a story convincingly—which is Miss Hurston's cradle gift, come to grips with motive fiction and social document fiction? The New Republic ' s Otis Ferguson wrote: "it isn't that this novel is bad, but that it deserves to be better". But he went on to praise the work for depicting "Negro life in its naturally creative and unselfconscious grace". Not all African-American critics had negative things to say about Hurston's work. Carter G. Meanwhile, reviews of Hurston's book in the mainstream white press were largely positive, although they did not translate into significant retail sales. Writing for The New York Times , Ralph Thompson states: "the normal life of Negroes in the South today—the life with its holdovers from slave times, its social difficulties, childish excitements, and endless exuberances For the New York Herald Tribune , Sheila Hibben described Hurston as writing "with her head as with her heart" creating a "warm, vibrant touch".

She praised Their Eyes Were Watching God as filled with "a flashing, gleaming riot of black people, with a limitless sense of humor, and a wild, strange sadness". As universities across the country developed Black Studies programs in the s and s, they created greater space for Black literature in academia. Several prominent academics, including Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Hurston first achieved a level of mainstream institutional support in the s. Walker published an essay, "Looking for Zora", in Ms. In that work, she described how the Black community's general rejection of Hurston was like "throwing away a genius".

The National Endowment for the Humanities went on to award Robert Hemenway two grants for his work to write Hurston's biography. In , the Modern Language Association held a special seminar focusing on Hurston. Hurston had attended the school, then known as Morgan Academy, in However, the printing was so profitable that Harper and Row refused to renew the leasing contract and instead reprinted its own new edition. The New York Times ' s Virginia Heffernan explains that the book's " narrative technique , which is heavy on free-indirect discourse, lent itself to poststructuralist analysis". It is now firmly established in the literary canon. In a conversation with Jody, Janie defends 'womenfolk,' disagreeing with the sexist claim that God made men "different" because they turn "out so smart" When she states that men "don't know half as much as you think you do," Jody interrupts her saying, 'you getting too moufy Janie Go fetch me de checker-board and de checkers' 70—71 so that he and the other men could play Bernard 9.

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