The Importance Of Objectification In Their Eyes Were Watching God

Superior Essays
Oppressive love is a Venus Fly Trap; getting too close to it will eventually cause the plant to snatch the victim with its beautifully dangerous traps. Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God explores the journey of Janie Crawford, a southern black woman struggling to be set free from oppression. While marriage should be based on love and affection, Janie’s marriages are based on submission. Because of this abusive love, Janie loses her self-image while yielding to the needs of others. Similarly, white men oppress African Americans by trapping them in a state of helplessness. Hurston challenges the cultural norms of the 1900s southern society by criticizing the objectification of African Americans and women. Deborah Clarke explains …show more content…
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston exposes oppression based on race and gender in order to demonstrate how overcoming objectification can lead to independence and self-discovery.
Hurston initially reveals racial discrimination in the lessons from Janie’s childhood in order to criticize society’s view of African Americans. Janie grows up in the house of a southern white family that her Nanny works for. She plays with the white children so often that she does not realize she is colored until she is six. Clarke explains that as a child, Janie learns that “To be black is to be not just different but absent” (607). Janie’s invisibility is established at a young age by the awareness of her skin color. Even at an innocent age, Janie begins to be subjected by people around her. Janie says, “‘Dey all useter call me Alphabet cause so many had done named me different names”’ (Hurston 9). Naming represents a symbol of power; people who name also control and the named are subjected. Hurston exposes racism to Janie at a young age in order to set a precedent of racial oppression in her life. Janie’s lessons of racial oppression come from her Nanny. Nanny reveals to Janie that “‘de
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Mrs. Turner, a racist woman, claims that Tea Cake pushes her and blames him for her being stomped on. She angrily yells at her husband, “‘You see dese no count niggers come in heah and break up mah place!”’ (Hurston 145). Mrs. Turner’s discriminatory eyes blind her from seeing that Tea Cake does nothing wrong and only blames him because of his skin color. Her use of the word nigger is a racial slur to belittle colored people. Similarly, Hurston demonstrates racism after a destructive hurricane in the glades. Tea Cake is chosen by racist white men to help dig out the corpses left from the storm. The white men tell him, “‘don’t lemme ketch none uh y’all dumpin’ white folks, and don’t be wastin’ no boxes on colored”’ (163). The men only reserve boxes for white people, not black, which reveal racism toward dead black people. As Tea Cake’s wife, his sufferings are Janie’s as well. She begins to understand the abuse of white men and the destructive nature of racism. Hurston uses both of these instances to expose the oppression Tea Cake endures and Janie’s recognition of the injustice of racism. Tea Cake and Janie contemplate if they should stay in the Glades despite the racism. Tea Cake tells Janie, “‘It’s bad bein’ strange niggers wid white folks. Everybody is against yuh”’ (164). Tea Cake and Janie realize people are against them because of their skin color. Despite racial oppression,

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