Their Eyes Were Watching God Essay

1861 Words 8 Pages
"I have said that the soul is not more than the body, And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is, And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud..."
-Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Zora Neale Hurston, in dealing with the female search for self-awareness in Their Eyes Were Watching God, has created a heroine in Janie Crawford. In fact, the female perspective is introduced immediately: "Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly" (1). On the very first page of Their Eyes
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Soon after this enlightenment, Janie meets a young boy, Johnny Taylor and she allows him to kiss her over the fence. However, Janie's grandmother, Nanny also witnesses this kiss.

As a former slave, Nanny's idea of marriage is influenced by her social status. Back to the years of slavery and the years after emancipation, African-Americans couldn't get too much freedom, if any. Their white masters treated the African-American women as goods. In the social echelon of things, they were at the bottom of the society. In turn making them the "mules" of the world (14). Slavery had anchored Nanny's mind; she believed that the best thing that could happen to an African-American woman is to marry a man that she can depend on, a marriage that can provide protection. Nanny felt that Johnny Taylor was not that type of man because a trifling youth like him would ruin Janie's life. That is why Nanny had chose someone who is respectable. Because Janie was born as a free child, Nanny felt she didn't have to experience life the same way she or her mother did. Notwithstanding Janie believes that she should fulfill her own dream by marrying a man that she loves, and she disregards the importance of material wealth.

After hearing her grandmother's thoughts, Janie understands the societal status that her life has handed her, yet she is determined to overcome this somehow. Yet

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