Barbara Johnson’s critique focuses on the metaphoric, metonymic and voice in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. It focuses on the major character, Janie Crawford’s inner and outer change towards her various relationships. She focuses on the strengths, both vocally and physically, gained after her first slap down by her second husband, Joe Starks.
Barbara Johnson focuses on the metaphoric meaning of this transformation which was defined as the substitution based on the resemblance or analogy and then she goes on to the metonymic meaning which she defines as the basis of a relation or association other than that similarity. Paul De Man, a deconstructionist literary critic and theorist, provides a brief summary stating the
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Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. According to the critique, “she had no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man, neither any glistening young fruit where petals used to be. She found that she had a host of thoughts she never expressed to him and numerous emotions she had let Joe know about….an outside now and suddenly she knew not to mix them”(taken from page 48 of the critique). Barbara views the paragraph as an externalization of Janie’s feelings onto the outer surroundings in the form of a narrative of movement from private to public space. While the whole of the figure relates metaphorically, analogically, to the marital situation it is designed to express, it reveals the marriage space to be metonymical, a movement through a series of contiguous rooms. It is a narrative not of union but of separation centered on an image not of conjugality but of virginity.
In Janie, there was still a search for her “voice”. When she realizes that the inner and outer are never the same, she paradoxically begins to speak. Janie’s acquisition of the power to speak allows the reader to sympathize or relate with Janie as she develops her voice and acquires strength to defend her opinions. It must be remembered that the maintenance of sides, metaphor and metonymy (inside and outside), is the very possibility of speaking at all. The reduction of a course to oneness, identity as it relates to Janie, the reduction of woman to mayor’s wife, has as its