Zora Neale's Oppression

1383 Words 6 Pages
Women in the early 1900s, despite having freedom, still faced oppression from society to live up to societal expectations. Women’s thoughts, personalities, and desires have been suppressed by men, leaving them confined to reaching societal expectations. Even women criticized other females advocated for their beliefs, which created a long and tedious struggle for women’s rights. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God portrays the oppression of women by highlighting the oppression of women through the limited liberation which Janie has in her second marriage to Jody. Hurston uses the motif of a mule to demonstrate the oppression which Janie faces during her marriage with Jody, which is reflective of the oppression that women faced …show more content…
Both Janie and the mules have no control over their lives and are forced to follow what others in the community dictate them to do. Just how “everybody indulged in the mule talk...but Joe had forbidden her to indulge” (Hurston 53). Both Janie and the mule lose control of their actions in each other’s respective ways. The mule is subjected to harsh treatment and is forced to work long hours, only later to receive verbal insults and stay confined without the freedom to roam. In the same sense of being oppressed, Janie’s words are controlled by Jody, showing her inability to connect with others and make a valuable contribution to any conservation that could show her intellect. Janie, one day, finally stands up for the mule and talks out, so Jody buys the yellow mule from Matt Bonner to make her happy and keep her quiet Janie still faces oppression following the purchase. The mule is the subject of constant rumors and is confined to the town and not allowed to roam independently, as a free animal should. Similarly, as the mule is confined, Janie is reprimanded and discouraged when she speaks for the town regarding how happy they are with Jody’s purchase of the yellow mule. Hambo, a man, acknowledges Janie’s words and says to Jody, “Yo wife is uh born orator, Starks. Us never knowed dat befo’. She put jus’ de right words tuh our thoughts” (Hurston 58). Jody is angered when …show more content…
During the early 1900s, women had domestic tasks and were not allowed to express themselves or speak out, even if their spouse was violent. Further, women had no legal representation in the courts, meaning any violent acts committed by their spouses towards them were ignored or brushed off (McKenna). Not only were women oppressed domestically, women also could not vote, silencing their voices and opinions within the democracy (Library of Congress). By highlighting the oppression of Janie, Hurston raises awareness to the struggle women had to go through to fight for their rightfully deserved

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