Examples Of Sexism In Their Eyes Were Watching God

1938 Words 8 Pages
Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Hurston, Zora. Their Eyes were Watching God. New York: Harper & Row, 1937. Print. In Zora Neale Hurston’s famous novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston explores the life of a southern black woman, Janie Crawford whose three marriages of domineering control of men make her acknowledge her independence and self-satisfaction as an African-American woman. Set in the early 1900s, Hurston reveals the dominant role of men in southern society and one woman’s journey toward finding herself and God. Summary: Janie Crawford is a southern African-American woman who grows up under the care of her grandmother. Janie’s mother has her at seventeen and soon after Janie’s birth she becomes a drinker and
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Hurston reveals sexism as a major conflict for women in the early 1900s. Society believes that a woman who does not have a husband is of low social value. This mindset absorbs Janie, which prevents her from discovering herself. Hurston proves the harsh treatment of woman when Logan, “slapped Janie until she had a ringing sound in her ears and told her about her brains before he stalked on back to the shore” (67). The harsh treatment Janie experiences with Logan destroys her hopes of a loving romantic relationship. Consequently, she lives miserably for years without discovering her true self. Not only is Logan abusive, so is Tea Cake. Hurston proves male superiority when Teacake “just slapped her around a bit to show he was boss” (140). Although Janie is forced to live under this overbearing control, she eventually realizes she can live without men telling her how to live her life. When Joe, her second husband dies Janie is not as sad as expected because she “likes being lonesome for a change. This freedom feeling was fine” (86). For once in Janie’s life, she can experience freedom without having the control of a man over her life. Although, her husband was dead, Janie finally felt alive without his domineering control. By the end of the novel, Janie takes pride in whom she is and who she is becoming without letting a man stop her. Hurston reveals Janie’s independence …show more content…
Through the utilization of southern dialect, the reader has a greater understanding of the time period and their form of communication. For instance, Janie is told over and over again that women “‘need aid and assistance. God never meant ‘em tuh try tuh stand by theirselves”’(86). Men in the 1900s believe that women should not be alone, instead they need a man to take care of them. The characters’ strong southern dialect makes the novel come alive with the characters. Southern dialect usually replaces the word to with tuh and disregards the –th syllable. While Joe is lying on his death bed Janie tells him, “‘But you wasn’t satisfied wid me de way Ah was. Naw! Mah own mind had tuh be squeezed and crowded to make room for yours in me”’(82). Janie is finally telling Joe how she felt while he mistreats her. Her Southern accent makes the reader think of Janie as a real person instead of a fictional character. If Hurston did incorporate a southern dialect in Their Eyes Were Watching God the reader would not feel as connected with the characters. During their time period using nigger to refer to African-Americans was common. Society believed that “‘uh white man and uh nigger women is de freest thing on earth. ’ Dey do as dey please”’ (180). White men and African-American women could get away with anything. The use of the word nigger helps the reader understand the time period.

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