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Self Actualizing Through Loving Others Essay

2255 words - 10 pages

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" (Mahatma Ghandi). In order to successfully achieve self-discovery and happiness in life one must serve and love others. Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God moves around from place to place in order to find happiness. Author Zora Neale Hurston's life parallels with this story, as she attended four different schools after growing up in Eatonville, Florida, America's first African-American town, where Janie first escapes for a new beginning (McLeod). Hurston studied cultural anthropology and started writing her books during the Great Depression (McLeod). The negative portrayal of blacks in the novel could allude to the sad times of prejudice when she grew up. Hurston struggled when growing up from her mother's death at an early age, her father's quick remarriage, and two of her own marriages that ended in divorces (McLeod). The serious matters of life and death in the novel might have stemmed from Hurston's rough childhood and early adulthood. From these tough experiences, Hurston has written many books on her ideas of living with love (McLeod). This life brought Hurston’s struggles into the novel where she teaches how to find true identity. Crabtree explains how "Hurston did not want Janie to find fulfillment in a man, but rather in her new-found self." Paradoxically, she exhibits the lesson of how one can receive self-knowledge through loving others selflessly.
Janie's life of receiving hatred in a prejudiced world demonstrates the selfishness of human nature. For example, the porch sitters in Janie's home town portray how people can even be judgmental to their own kind. Every evening, the porch sitters would sit "beside the judgment" making "burning statements." Their "eyes" were "wide open in judgment", a "mass cruelty" (Hurston 1-2). Chinn believes this judgment that took place was the porch sitters' attempt to mirror God and his power. Everyone judges whether one believes it or not. The women sit on their porches making “burning statements with questions” judging her for wearing overalls, with hair hanging “down her back like some young gal” wondering why she “don’t stay in her” own “class—“(Hurston 2)? The women criticize Janie due to their conservative view of women (Chinn). They cannot handle seeing anyone different from their parameters of vision. The porchsitters in Their Eyes Were Watching God like to judge because it gives them a sense of power, much like people in our world today.
When Janie heads to the first all-black town, Eatonville, with Jody Starks, she searches for a place without this judgment; however, this possibility in life finds itself rarely. Immediately Jody Starks takes control of Janie, commanding she wear a head rag to conceal her beautiful hair (55). Keiko Dilbeck believes Jody Starks requires this due to his jealousy. Even in the all colored town, those living in the area could not begin "to think of colored people in the post...

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