Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

3964 words - 16 pages

Equality is meant for all humans at the moment of their birth as it is said that all are created equal by god. Yet, to this day not all are equal. The novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston explores negative aspects of humanity and the values, morals and ethics it promotes through thematic topics. The book uses the thematic topics of sexism, domestic relationships, racism, independence, ambition, and love to prove that equality must be earned and is not given due to the values, ethics and morals that society promotes. This truth is supported and proven by narrative conventions and other writing techniques by Zora Neale Hurston in the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Zora Neale Hurston uses the theme of sexism in the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, to demonstrate her truth. Hurston’s truth is that equality is not given due to society’s values and must be earned. Male dominance is valued strongly and promoted by Hurston’s society which leads to inequality. This means that in order for Janie to gain equality in her relationship she must earn it. This is proven during a conversation between Janie and Logan when he asks her to help him with the farm work. Janie refuses to help him so Logan replies by saying:

‘You ain't got no particular place. It's wherever Ah need yuh. Git uh move on yuh, and dat quick.’ ‘Mah mamma didn't tell me Ah wuz born in no hurry. So whut business Ah got rushin' now? Anyhow dat ain't whut youse mad about. Youse mad 'cause Ah don't fall down and wash-up dese sixty acres uh ground yuh got. You ain't done me no favor by marryin' me. And if dat's what you call yo'self doin', Ah don't thank yuh for it. Youse mad 'cause Ah'm tellin' yuh whut you already knowed.’ (Hurston, 31)

Janie earns her equality in the relationship by refusing work that Logan is attempting to force on her. Hurston uses tone and dialect in this quotation to emphasis the mood to the reader. Janie is talking in an aggressive manner towards Joe as he is to her. This supports the mood of anger Zora Neale Hurston sets in this section of the book. Psychoanalysis Theory applies here to show that Janie’s reply to Logan is influenced by the shame he causes her to feel through his initial comment that discusses his idea of his dominance over her. Janie speaks aggressively to Logan as a reaction of the shame she felt with the intention of making Logan feel shame. Through Feminist Theory it is evident that Janie lives in a patriarchal society which supports and encourages gender roles. Logan is trying to be the “man of the house” by asserting his dominance over Janie by ordering her to work on the farm with him. Logan also shows his support of gender roles because he expects Janie to please him and do what he says. Janie’s defiance against her husband shows her disapproval of a patriarchal society. Disapproval of a patriarchal society such as the one in the book is common among most women and many men as well. Women in the 20th century...

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