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Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston And The Awakening By Kate Chopin

2438 words - 10 pages

Novels that are written by pronounced authors in distinct periods can possess many parallels and differences. In fact, if we were to delve further into Zora Neale Hurstons, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, we can draw upon many similarities. Now of course there are the obvious comparisons, such as Janie is African American and poor, unlike Edna who is white and wealthy, but there is much more than just ethnicity and materialistic wealth that binds these two characters together. Both novels portray a society in which the rights of women and their few opportunities in life are strictly governed, usually breaking the mold that has been made for them to ...view middle of the document...

Edna was comparing how the sight of the ocean that day at the Grand Isle reminded her of her endless walks through the fields back in Kentucky when she was a young girl, that comprised most of her summer days. She was now having to learn how to associate her new life to this summer island her and her family had visited, and somehow it seems that even thinking back to her childhood seems to comfort her in that moment. On the other hand, Janie Crawford grew up amongst white children and their family due to her grandmother working for them. She was immersed in the white culture and she states “Ah was wid dem white chillun so much till Ah didn’t know Ah wuzn’t white till Ah was round six years old” (Hurston, 8). Janie was not taught any other way and did not realize that there was a difference between her and her childhood friends, and once she came to realize this difference her perspective of her wants and desires as an individual seemed to drastically begin to alter her as a woman. Janie was alienated from many other blacks, thus relating it back to Edna how she felt separated from the Creole culture she had been thrown into by her husband who was mostly absent the entire time they were visiting.
As a reader you can also pick up on the sense that both female characters feel oppressed and restricted by their relationships and overall unsatisfied with how their lives are turning out. Janie Crawford throughout a majority of her life seems to be dominated by her first two husbands, both of which subdue her but ultimately do not accomplish the task in making her completely submissive to them. Her first husband expects her to work constantly, toiling in the fields doing mans labor. Whereas, Joe, Janie’s second husband regards her as a valuable and irreplaceable possession, thus restricting her from participating fully in society. Though Edna’s husband does not appear to be cruel or abusive like that of Janie’s, he does seem to take his wife for granted, expecting her to be perfectly obedient and the typical housewife.
Ultimately the lack of fulfillment both women feel resulting from their unhealthy marriages leads them to cultivate new relationships with men who seem to understand and appreciate them more. After Janie’s second husband dies, she then refuses to be suppressed once again by a man. With this new sense of freedom Janie has acquired she does not feel the need to once again submerge herself into a relationship that is only going to stifle her as an individual. She keeps Joe’s home, but burns her head-rags, which Joe had always insisted she wear in public. The burning of the head-rags, along with her statement that “’Ah jus’ loves dis freedom’” (Hurston, 93), constitutes her awakening to a world where she is not confined by Eatonville’s expectations of a black woman’s proper role, or any proper woman’s role at that. Janie seems to lack the submissive quality described as being one of the four characteristics of the cult of...

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