Zora Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God

1988 words - 8 pages

According to W.E.B. Dubois, “American and Negro, tow souls, two thoughts, two unreconsiled stirrings: two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” This is an idea which was prevalent in Their Eyes Were Watching God. In her story, she elaborated on the theme of black females being divided and Janie’s strength keeping her from falling apart. The following essay will examine Hurston’s life, the time period in history in which she wrote, symbols in her story, the aspects of her piece that are significant, and what critics say about her piece.Although Zora Neale Huston was a black female writer, she did not place much emphasis on the Jim Crow South even though that is where the story takes place. According to critics like Richard Wright, this is due to her “manipulating stereotypes of black people to attract white readers” (Contemporary Literary Criticism 207). Another possible reason may be since the story takes place in a town similar to where she grew up in Eatonville, Florida which was an all black town. She “was never indoctrinated in inferiority, and she could see the evidence of black achievement all around her.” (Boyd 3). From this one can assume she did not perceive racism or segregation existing when she was younger. The all black town was similar to the backdrop for her story “Their Eyes Were Watching God. Although it was an all black town, it was not considered a slum. It was the first black city to become incorporated. Around 1925 she moved to New York, and since she wrote when she was living in New York, she is considered by some a writer of the Harlem Renaissance.The Harlem Renaissance was a movement that began in the decade prior to the Great Depression. It started as a music movement, but evolved into literature and arts as well. Typically, the foremost writers of the time wanted to show that African Americans could create things that would be reflected upon. “They were trying to illuminate the world to the fact that African Americans were not the same as White Americans, but they were just as good and deserved respect and equality” (http://dictionary.reference.com). The Harlem Renaissance authors wanted to show the challenges for African Americans and to celebrate their culture. Many disagree as to if Hurston she should have been included as part of the Harlem Renaissance due to her lack of knowledge regarding racism. Others say the reason Hurston wrote was to celebrate her black culture. This confusion on the part of Hurston showed, according to Contemporary Literary Criticism, her “caught between the emphasis on the “exotic” aspects of the Harlem Renaissance and the angry voices of black literature during the 1940’s and the 1950’s.”There is a lot of controversy regarding Hurston’s place in the Harlem Renaissance, citing “her flat refusal to politicize her early writings by adopting...

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