Feminism In Their Eyes Were Watching God
In the 1930r’s, there was a very academic, social, and artistic outbreak that took place in Harlem, New York. During the time the outbreak was called the New Negro Movement named by Alan Locke. Zora Neal Hurston says, But I am not tragically colored (Hurston 2), she is saying that it is not a bad thing that she is colored more like a good thing because she can use that to her advantage.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God and How it feels to be Colored Me, both works talk about how it is difficult to be oppressed and it is hard to forget about those things. We can tell that in How it Feels to be Colored Me is why Hurston wrote the book. In Their Eyes Are Watching God, Zora Neal Hurston uses three major ideas: the freedom to express feminine voice, the freedom to search for your horizons, and freedom to stray from the accustomed society norms to convey that women want the capability to not be labeled as history says a woman should be.
Janier’s true voice and her capability to express herself shows us her freedom as a strong woman. When Janie was with Logan and Jody, she could not express herself because Logan and Jody muzzled her opinion, so she could not be heard. On the other hand, when Tea Cake came into Janier’s life, he respected her voice and let her express it. Janie loved the conversation and sometimes she thought up good stories on the mule, but Joe had forbidden her to indulge. He didn’t want her talking after such trashy people (Hurston 53). When Jody and Janie were married Jody would not let Janie join the conversation because he thought that they were not good enough for her by doing this it restricts her voice from its true potential. As Janie and Jodyr’s marriage went on the restriction of Janier’s voice just got worse. Time came when she fought back with her tongue as best, she could, but it didn’t do her any good. It just made Joe do more. He wanted her submission and he’d keep on fighting until he felt he had it. So gradually, she pressed her teeth together and learned to hush (Hurston 71). As their marriage went on Janie figured out that there was no use in trying to fight back so she gave in to Jodyr’s nonsense. Janie does not have any desire to express her voice after this because Jody has restricted her so much. In the Foreword, by Alaine Locke, says, Through You I entered Heaven and Hell knew rapture and despair. This means a woman does not get in to Heaven or Hell unless it is through a man/ They also can not know the emotions like rapture happiness or despair sadness.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neal Hurston uses the imagery of the horizon a lot. In the novel the horizon is the finish line for Janie, in the bookr’s entirety Janie is determined to reach the horizon so she can determine what her real self-worth is. Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon–for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you–and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her grandmother’s neck tight enough to choke her (Hurston 89). At this point in the book, Janie is mad at Nanny because she says that nanny took away her horizons by telling her how to marry instead of marrying for love but to marry for money. So Ah’m back home agin and Ah’m satisfied tuh be heah. Ah done been tuh de horizon and back and now Ah kin set heah in mah house and live by comparisons (Hurston 191). Now Janie has reached her horizon and she can say that she has found her true self and is her natural self. In How it Feels to be Colored Me, Hurston says, At certain times I have no race I belong to no race or time, I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads (Hurston . Hurston is saying its not that she does not want to be a woman, she wants the freedom to not be labeled as history says a woman should be but to be able to express your natural state of being.
As the story goes on Janie goes from husband to husband and as she is going from husband to husband, she wants the freedom to stray from the accustomed path. For generations and generations women have followed the same rules and now she has enough to courage to do something different no matter how other people judge her or the punishment. What she doin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on?-Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in?…-Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs-why she don’t stay in her class? (Hurston 2). When Janie returns to Eatonville after the death of Tea Cake, she does not act at all like a traditional woman would act and she does not care what anyone thinks because Janie knows that she has found her true self and is one-hundred percent confident in herself. Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think. Ah… (Hurston 24). This is when Janie talk to Nanny about the decision to marry Logan and how Janie does not love him. Janie wants her life to be under a pear tree and to be in love, but she never stops dreaming which is why she is different than other women. In the Foreword, by Alaine Locke says Douglas writings are a documenting of the feminine heart and that woman want the experience of love (Locke 17). He is saying that women do not want to marry for money, they want a real experience of what love is.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neal Hurston portrays that women want the freedom to determine their actions and words without being told what to do or say by men. We can understand her work because she relates it to a relative topic to todays world. We can now understand what oppressing someoner’s voice does to a person and to avoid doing that to people in the world today.
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