Of African Americans In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God?

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Oftentimes, the best way to appreciate a culture or a tradition is to portray it in the most realistic way possible. In the book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston writes about the journey of a woman who is trying to find herself in the world. Since the book has been published, it has received criticism for portraying African Americans and their traditions in an unfavorable way. Although it seems that Zora Neale Hurston oversimplifies the lives of African Americans in Their Eyes Were Watching God, the realism seen in her writing actually celebrates African American traditions. Hurston’s specific use of language and her illustrative descriptions of the characters in the novel create the most realistic image of African Americans …show more content…
Although critics such as Richard Wright claim that Hurston uses “minstrel technique that makes 'the white folks ' laugh”, Hurston actually showcases the strength of African Americans in the most realistic way possible. For example, in the beginning of the novel the exchange between Janie and her Nannie shows the progression of African American women and the importance of family in African American culture. Hurston writes, “De woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see. Ah been prayin’ fuh it tuh be different wid you”(17). Janie’s Nannie recounts her stories about the racial oppression she faced and wants Janie to be different and have a different life. Nannie, Janie’s only remaining family member is trying to tell Janie that her life can be much different from her own, and wants to help in making it happen. This perpetuates the tradition of staying close to your family and helping and advising them in need. Looking back to the critics, we can see that just because Hurston does not show the African American characters of the novel as overly strong or unrealistically arrogant does not mean she is perpetuating stereotypes. Her realistic view in this situations shows that African American women are now become more independent and outspoken which discards stereotypes of African American women at the time, as well as maintaining their familial connections. Furthermore, Hurston’s use of storytelling in the novel celebrates African American culture. Rich oral traditon has always been a key component of African American culture and is seen throughout the novel through the men on the porch, communal style of living and conversations throughout the movie. This is seen specifically when Janie is telling her story to Phoeby and ends it by saying: “You can tell ’em what Ah say if you wants to. Dat’s

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