It is strange that two of the most prominent artists of the Harlem Renaissance could ever disagree as much as or be as different as Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright. Despite the fact that they are the same color and lived during the same time period, they do not have much else in common. On the one hand is Hurston, a female writer who indulges in black art and culture and creates subtle messages throughout her most famous novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. On the other hand is Wright, who is a male writer who demonstrates that whites do not like black people, nor will they ever except for when they are in the condition “…America likes to see the Negro live: between laughter and tears.” Hurston was also a less political writer than Wright. When she did write politically, she was very subtle about stating her beliefs.
After analyzing a few synopses of Richard Wright’s works, it is clear that he used violence to make his political statements. It is not just the actions of Wright’s characters in The Native Son and Uncle Tom’s Children that are violent; in many cases, Wright himself seems very sensitive to any sort of racial provocation. In The Ethics of Living Jim Crow, he details a few of his encounters with racial oppression. Many of them feature violence, and his reflections of his experiences become less and less emotional, almost as of this was all he had come to expect from whites.
It is most likely because of his incidents with whites that Wright does not approve of “Uncle Toms,” black people who act as if they are white or try to please white people. In “Between Laughter and Tears,” his review of the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, a famous black female novelist, he accuses Hurston of appealing to whites by portraying blacks in the “quaint” state whites love to see them in most. He thinks she was not realistic enough in her writing because she excludes typical racial tensions and does not delve into any sort of political issue. However, upon further speculation of the novel, it can be said that even though Wright argues that Hurston did not make enough of a conscious effort to make a political statement with her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, she did; she just did not employ violence to demonstrate that racial oppression does not control her life.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston follows the main character Janie’s journey to find love on her own terms. The first man she married, she married to appease Nanny, her grandmother. The second man she marries is Jody Starks, who she marries because she failed to find love for her previous husband. After the oppressive Starks dies, Janie remarries Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods, the only man she has ever loved. They move to “the muck” where Janie feels more at home than ever before because she is with Tea Cake and because she can choose to indulge in her own relations without anyone telling her what to do or with whom to associate.
By some tragic...