Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston Essay

2534 Words 11 Pages
As a bee searches for a flower to pollinate, a woman seeks to find her identity, despite the chains of her oppressors. Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God explores the journey of Janie Crawford, who is subjugated by her husbands because of her race and gender. Hurston challenges the cultural norms of 1900s southern society by criticizing the objectification of African American women. Deborah Clarke explains that in a culture which “defined black people as spectacle and black women as sexualized bodies, one needs to transform and redeem the potential of vision” (602). Hurston’s novel revives the hope of people oppressed because of their race and gender. When Janie breaks her chains, she embraces her independence to seek what every human being searches for: identity. 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. Janie grows up in the house of a southern white family that her grandmother (Nanny) worked for. She often plays with the white children so much that she does not even know she is colored until she is 6. Clarke explains that as a child, Janie learns “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…

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