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Family Influence Within The Novels: A Gathering Of Old Men And Their Eyes Were Watching God

990 words - 4 pages

Families play a large part in developing ones personal identity. They help shape our attitudes, habits and ethics from the earliest age. Family plays a huge role in developing character traits in American Ethnic Literature. Families tend to be the strongest of influences in ones life. Many times characters are faced with a dilemma, pursue ones own life path or to respect their family wishes. People often times feel that the needs of the family are more important than their own. In many cases, obligation to family is more important than pursuing one’s own path. They suppress their own ideas and desires in order to fulfill family obligations. In the novel A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest Gaines there was a sense of rebellion against family tradition. The black plantation workers rejected their family’s ideas in pursuit of individual identity. On the other hand the role of family played an important role in the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston. The main character, Janie, spent much of her life ignoring her own desires and instead tried to please her mom, fulfilling her family wishes. Though both of these novels have similar ideas about the role of family, the characters handle these roles quite differently.In Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God the main character Janie was largely influenced by her family. Janie had a good life at a young age; she spent most of her time playing with white children who lived in the house. Janie even thought that she was a White child for some time (Hurston 9). This freedom would eventually come to an end though. Janie’s grandmother wanted her to have a better life than her growing up. Because of this, her grandmother insisted that she marry someone who could take care of her. Janie felt obligated to listen to her grandmother regarding marriage and love in her teen years (Hurston 13). Her grandmother felt that it was her duty to see that Janie was protected by a man who could provide for her (Hurston 15). She told Janie about how hard life was for her when she was younger (Hurston 17). This made Janie feel obligated to marry Logan Killicks. Logan is an old unattractive man and does not understand Janie’s youth. Once Janie realizes that she can no longer bear to stay with Logan any more, she follows her heart and runs away with a new love interest Joe Starks. This is Janie’s first step towards deciding her own life path. Although she has broken away from her first husband chosen by her grandmother, she still honors her beliefs. She still had the idea of being protected in her mind. Janie looked to her second husband, Joe Starks for safety and love (Hurston 29). Joe Starks is a successful man whom with out a doubt is able to provide for Janie. She did whatever he wanted her to do despite her own objections. Janie...

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