Family Influence Within the Novels: A Gathering Of Old Men and Their Eyes Were Watching God

Essay by richcatUniversity, Bachelor'sA, June 2008

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Families play a large part in developing ones personal identity. They help shape our attitudes, habits and ethics from the earliest age. Family plays a huge role in developing character traits in American Ethnic Literature. Families tend to be the strongest of influences in ones life. Many times characters are faced with a dilemma, pursue ones own life path or to respect their family wishes. People often times feel that the needs of the family are more important than their own. In many cases, obligation to family is more important than pursuing one’s own path. They suppress their own ideas and desires in order to fulfill family obligations. In the novel A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest Gaines there was a sense of rebellion against family tradition. The black plantation workers rejected their family’s ideas in pursuit of individual identity. On the other hand the role of family played an important role in the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston. The main character, Janie, spent much of her life ignoring her own desires and instead tried to please her mom, fulfilling her family wishes. Though both of these novels have similar ideas about the role of family, the characters handle these roles quite differently.

In Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God the main character Janie was largely influenced by her family. Janie had a good life at a young age; she spent most of her time playing with white children who lived in the house. Janie even thought that she was a White child for some time (Hurston 9). This freedom would eventually come to an end though. Janie’s grandmother wanted her to have a better life than her growing up. Because of this, her grandmother insisted that she marry someone who could...