Amanda Kouaho Mr. BowdenAP/GT English 416, January 2018A Microscopic Lens I. The introductionWhen written, literature primarily derives from the era developed in. The Harlem renaissance, a negro cultural movement, reigned from the 1920’s through the early 1930’s in Harlem, New York (History.com Staff). The primary purpose of this movement was to revitalize black pride in the minds of the African Americans in response to the prominent and harsh racism present at that time. Zora Neal Hurston, an African American writer during the Harlem renaissance, wrote primarily about the racial struggles that African Americans. Born in Notasulga, Alabama, Hurston is the fifth of eight children. Her father John Hurston, was a carpenter and Baptist preacher; her mother Lucy Potts Hurston was a former school teacher. Hurston and her family moved to eatonville— an all black town— where she grew up submerged in black culture and heritage. By the age of 26, Hurston had not completed high school, so she lied that she was 16 in order to be admitted into school. After graduating from Barnard College in 1928, she published her masterpiece— Their Eyes were Watching God— in 1937 (The Estate of Zora Neale Hurston). The novel was written in seven weeks during Hurston’s stay in Haiti (Hurston); detailing the life of a young woman Janie Crawford who lives her life trying to find the horizon—a future of self-indulgence and acceptance, while being witnessing the powerful control that God holds over human existence. Through her novel, Hurston easily captures the mindset of the readers— especially those who have many aspirations— and can understand Janie’s unquenchable greed to complete her goal. She then exploits this idea of having an omnipotent force serve as a barrier to human greed, through the use of numerous interconnected themes in order to explicate the title of the book with a connection to the main character’sJanie life.II: Discussion of theme and author styleHurston details Janie’s growth as an individual through the antithetical views of confinement and freedom— supported by the interaction that Janie through language and communication. This theme of confinement and freedom regarding gender and racial inequality is prominent throughout the novel as, Janie represents a double minority. The first being female. And the second being a person of color. It is stressed in the notion thatShips at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. 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 (Hurston 1).The novel starts with this quote that embarks the reader on a journey filled with gender inequality and bias. The fundamental idea that women physically strive for their goals while men wish upon it is further explained throughout the novel. Janie experiences many different adversaries that stand between her and her goal of finding herself and living blissfully. Her first marriage to Logan was done in a forceful manner in which she felt deprived of human nature. Her second marriage to Jody was accented by confining her, and shaping her to become his ideal partner. All of these events had halted her progress of self discovery; placing her in a personal bubble. Along with striving for her goal—the horizon—Janie had to put up with multiple different predicaments that come with being a headstrong female of her era. In general, women have a hard time achieving their goals in life; since society is built on the male autocratic system; women are expected to stay meek and passive while following their feminine “duties”. Given that Janie is an African American female, obtaining the goals in her life come at a higher and more dangerous price. Therefore, in order to reach her life goals she must personally work hard for it and never let her goal out of site. This is demonstrated primarily when she follows her goals when scorned by the town people for its validity. The life of a male is in conventional settings less constricted and more open to opportunities than that of a female. So, the only adversary in most cases to men reaching their dreams are time, laziness, and the desertion of their dreams.. But, women on the other hand have to undergo a “war” with society in order to accomplish even the basic things. Janie had to face the condensing opinions of the town people in regards to her relationship with tea cakes, and later a murder trial for the effects of her dream. In order to reach their aspirations women have to develop a greed for their “horizon” and fight not only against themselves, but against the jurisdictions and prejudgement of those around them. Depicted later on in the novel, Janie is stuck in a constant battle with herself and societal norms in her hopes of achieving her horizon. The novel is often branded as a feminist novel but, feminism refers to: the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes (Webster dictionary). The statement is void since from the start, as Hurston establishes the fact that there is a distinct inequality between men and women. It also introduces the concept of man vs. God that is present throughout the entire novel. The novel speaks on volumes of the concept: that man may try anything in life God in change has ultimate authority. No matter how hard Janie tries to define her own fate and find her horizon, she will always be under not only the control of society, but most importantly god. After going out and getting the opportunity to experience the world, Janie had found peace and “pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. From around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.” (Hurston.193). Janie has gone to the horizon and back. She has completed her journey and is now content with her life. The hopes and yearning of happiness and freedom that she once possessed has been satisfied. She has undergone many turmoils of events in order to see life for itself. Her grandmother tried to protect her from the rest of the world, but Janie took the world at a headstrong position and weaved through it not just to find her dream but, also to discover herself. Although some may argue that Janie did not in fact complete her quest of finding the horizon; that in reasoning she is still constricted by her hopes of finding the horizon. Some may claim that this may developed from her blinding perspective of what the horizon consists of. But, in all reasoning Janie has grown as an individual, which counters that notion. Throughout her life Janie was told what to do. First by granny, then Logan, followed by Jody. They had all tried to shape her and make her conform to their standards. With tea cakes it is different, he allowed Janie to express herself and do what she liked. When she wanted to work with him in the field, he didn’t try to restrict her because she was a women or anything like that. To Janie, her life is complete. Although she lost her beloved and went through many attributions as a result to her greed for finding her horizon, she now holds no regrets. This is significantly important as one would think that she would hate the thought of her love for tea cakes or perceive her dream as foolish, but she instead holds a grateful attitude towards the experience. This maybe because, she might not have ever pictured herself finding some sort of happiness. All through her life she was told what to do, the moment that Johnny kissed her, her life was on its path to being determined. Therefore, the fact that she had some sort of authority over her life, sends her into a state of content. But, it is important to remember that Janie didn’t really have control over her life. It could be argued that her life was guided by god himself, hints the title “their eyes were watching god”. Janie had to look up to god during many different time of her life (ex: Jody’s controlling ways, Logan’s boring tendencies and even during tea cakes rage after being bitten by the dog). She looked up to god to improve her life. This connects to how the African Americans during this time period especially. Through the connection with the realities of the time period, Hurston enables the main character janie to be be able to be relatable by individuals of this time period. In this way, Janie’s success in finding herself and what true happiness feels like, is emphasized extremely as she defied multiple odds to reach her status. Language and communication are important in the novel as, they stress the adversary and, character development that Janie undergoes through her lifelong battle of reaching the horizon. Throughout the novel Janie learns how to control her speech—voice— in order to become an advantage to her goal. It began by her second husband Jody claiming that he, “never married her for nothin’ lak dat speaking out. Since she’s uh woman and her place is in de home” (Hurston.43). Jody belittle Janie and forces her to become submissive and quiet. Throughout her marriage with Jody, she faces a time where she is forced to think for herself and her needs and wants. This is because she doesn’t have the luxury to voice her opinions and thoughts; which constantly muddle through her mental capacity. It can be said that Janie’s time with Jody makes her greedy for freedom and for discovering herself. Through the different marriages that Janie goes through, she finds her voices little by little and creates a more vivid image of what her horizon entitles. She becomes not only stronger physically but also physiologically and emotionally. These experiences help her to maneuver the world and mature enough to follow her passion instead of the ones that society bestows upon her. The way that she managed to ruin the image that Jody had developed of himself over the course of their marriage by voicing her opinions, strengthen Janie’s drive for the horizon and her attempt at freedom.While Jody wanted to play god and establish a domineering attitude, he in time succumbs to god himself. This occurrence is relatable to the entire novel. Characters try to do what they want and act as they would like but end up being the ones to pay for the price. Through Jody’s controlling ways and his ultimate demise, it is apparent to the reader that human’s who strive to control life will end up poorly. For example, later on in the book tea cakes beats since in order to feel superior keep her in check and god like to Janie. This notion was further instilled in his mind as the town people cheered him on since ” ‘ uh tender woman lak Janie Don’t even holler. She jus’ cries’ ” (Hurston.148), which demonstrate sublime authority and upmost respect that they believe a woman ought to demonstrate to a man. Unfortunately, he ends up dying from contracting rabies; which may have been his punishment. It is highly ironic that Janie had fought hard to keep speak her mind and let her voice be heard only to remain silent at a crucial moment. This may have happened because she believed that if she had done so, she would have lost her “horizon”. To her tea cakes embellished all of her hopes and dreams. He provided a platform where she could express herself to her desire and wouldn’t be shunned or judge. As depicted throughout the book Janie turns her weakness of silenceness into a strength that she controls. With Jody she got by by being silent (which she didn’t choose) and with tea cakes she chooses this silence, since she has come to realize the volumes that silence speaks. The inner peace that she strived for since a young age and the confinement put upon her by those around her, drove Janie to not only find herself but, enjoy what she believed life offered the best. She was able to complete her quest, while using communication and language as her main weapon. Hurston might have done this in order to state that no one is godly enough. While tea cakes character became too good to be true, Hurston may have “humanize” him in order for the audience to become sympathetic to him and make the story more realistic and relatable. In life know one can be perfect and everyone has their faults. No matter what, everyone is forced to “look up to god” in some way; waiting on his unknown next move. Though tea cakes actions might have been predicted since, he seemed to be to “manufactured’.Morality, Humility and Pride. Three components that all humans seem to succumb to are stressed through the tittle of the novel, and elaborated throughout the course of the novel. In the end, whether she liked it or not, Janie was force to realize thatIt was inevitable that she should accept any inconsistency and cruelty from her deity as all good worshippers do from theirs. All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood (Hurston.145).The entire book Janie possess a certain fear of the unknown and fear of not advancing through her life. Therefore with her being an African American woman, her strive for her goal was not easy nor was it one that is desired by many. Janie had shed “blood” while trying to become who she wanted. Through her discovery of herself, she comes to realize that there are many odds stacked against them that may have prevented her from reaching her goal. She has come to accept that the world for her is a difficult one that takes grit to conquer. This concept furthers the theme that humans don’t have a choice in what come through them in their lifetime. Whether they like to or not, they are constantly under the impression of god and look to him for whatever may come to them in their life. Although they may dictate some of their decisions, ultimately the final effect is not one that they create or choose themselves. During the storm, everyone was involuntarily looking up to the almighty for hope and salvation as, “the wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God” (Hurston.160). The entire novel is summarized within the short excerpt. It’s stated within every single theme presented and contrasts it to the general concept. All men are weak under the power of god and he is the only one who knows everyone’s fates. Instead of continuing their lives during this storm, they turn to the one they believe is strong enough and capable of saving them, to comfort themselves. This statement can be contrasted to Janie herself, as it compares the storm to Janie’s life. Know matter how hard she tried to prevent any adversaries for herself, she always was under some type of supernatural control. All humans aren’t super being. They all have imperfections that distinguish them apart. God in the book is characterized as an omnipotent being. He knows no boundaries and individuals become feeble in his presence. These themes aide in explain the title of the book Their Eyes Were watching God by amplifying the fact that although mankind tries to become the controller of their lives and those around them, they easily become defetable in the face of god and ultimately look to him for decisions and guidance.III: Investigation of ArticleEdwidge Danticat is an award winning Haitian- American novelist and short story teller. The foreword Their Eyes Were Watching God written by her, explains the follow up on Janie’s journey and what happens next after she comes back to the town. Janie stresses how she has “been to de horizon and back and now and kin set heah in her house and live by comparisons” (Danticat.part 4); signifying that her ultimate quest has been achieved and completed. Janie explains that she has accomplished all the she wished and can now live her live in bliss and content. This is significant considering the sad twist of events that Janie left her dreams at. She as shunned and her goal was questioned for its validity. Although many may not support Janie’s way of accomplishment, the perseverance that she had to the very end is in fact admirable. She has now come to realize that she only needs herself in life (the reasons why she tells Phoebe that she can tell the entire town her story) to make herself content and any object or person doesn’t specifically define her happiness nor herself as a person. No matter how much Janie believed to be in control of her life she has in fact come to be a product of god’s will and in theory has come to realize it. This maybe the reason why she claims to be content and doesn’t strive for more in life. When she sees the rest of the town who have been sheltered from the rest of reality, ” she either ignores them entirely or pities them for never having left the safety of their town and never having lived and loved as deeply as she has” (Danticat.part 3). This statement itself could be deemed ironic by many as Janie’s love might have come off as superficial but, in all reality she has allowed herself to experience memories that most of the town would never have the opportunity to have.This is also an important step for Janie as she now has her own validation of her life and can place events following her quest in a better perspective. Janie in the future will most likely develop a more critical view on life and the events that surrounds it. She will also be more mindful to the fact that she can’t change her fate herself and that only guidance from god will lead her for the rest of her life.The difference of dreams between each individual is something that is emphasized through the novel. Even if the dreams are the same, the ultimate goal to achieve them are drastically different from person to person. Dreams and aspirations “takes their shape from de shore it meets and they are different with every shore” (danticat. 4). Janie’s journey is special within its own as it reflects her as a person. Hurston’s novel become easily connectable by many as, everyone undergoes tribulations to find their ultimate goals and desires. Dandicatt most likely uses this saying in order to emphasize on the fact that Janie’s story could be relatable to many. Although may not directly the same, some correlations might be noticed. Everyone doesn’t have the same goals and aspirations nor are the methods for achieving them the same. Therefore, letting someone god who has seen all and knows all guide the way could success be acquired.IV: Conclusion Through the use of many themes, Hurston emphasizes the fact that the title of the book, Their eyes were watching god relates to Janie’s character as a whole more than noticed. As Janie goes through many tribulations, she faces the conflict of having to look up to god to “save” her. No matter what restrictions that society throws at her or, the character development she faces; at the face of god, she is weak and to his mercy. While Hurston, connects this phenomena to Janie, it is easily connectable to various individuals. No matter what adversaries are face, it is human tendency to a god to unobstruct their path in life.
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