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Universal Themes Of Womanhood Nora Zeale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

958 words - 4 pages

In 1937, Nora Zeale Hurston published Their Eyes Were Watching God, a novel that forever changed societies view on women. Zora Neale Hurston’s character, Janie, portrays a black, southern woman, although she is black, universal positions of women play a key role in her development. Universal themes of women are reiterated and reinforced through the series of three marriages with three men. These three men play a role in Janie’s life long search for independence and soul renewal.
Janie’s grandmother, Nanny, sparks the beginning of the journey through the search of her inner self. Because of Janie’s blossoming womanhood, Nanny insists that Janie gets married right away. With Nanny’s experience with slavery, her actions in insuring financial stability and respectability for Janie, is sparked by it. With Nanny’s request, Janie’s want of independence clashes with Nanny’s plans for Janie. To soothe Nanny’s request, Janie marries Logan Killicks. Like all elders, the reassurance of the safety and stability of their children and grandchildren gives them ease. With Janie’s young and rebellious age, she does not realize the need of these essentials. Janie’s rebellious attitude drives the remainder of the novel. Like all women, Janie is expected to withdraw from her views to please her grandmother, which she does. Janie’s principle of independence is overridden by her grandmother. During the slavery era, the elders were dominant over the younger individuals. Not only does the theme of “elders know best” exist in African American culture but in society as a whole, such as the Native Americans and the Africans. Janie wanted to give her grandmother assurance that she would be taken care of before her death, a month after Janie’s marriage, Nanny dies.
Nanny forces Janie to marry, Logan Killicks, a man twice her age, to ensure that Janie has “financial security”. Because of Logan’s ugly appearance and terrible body odor, Janie’s love fails. “Cause you told me Ah mus gointer love him, and, and Ah don’t. Maybe if somebody was to tell me how, Ah could do it.” (pg. 23) Janie’s grandmother insists that her love for Logan will soon come. Many individuals strive for the essence of love, an object that seems almost unreachable. Because Janie is so young, she is confused and dumbfounded on what love is and how love is developed. Not only does the African American woman strive for it, but women as a gender. For a year, Logan pampers her and tends to her every need and becomes extremely infatuated with her hair. Because of the forced marriage, the destiny of the marriage was pre-chosen. After six months, Logan buys Janie and mule and expects her to work along beside him in the field, he realizes that life if Logan is not...

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