Zora Hurston - Their Eyes Were Watching God

Essay by vmaniesCollege, Undergraduate October 2008

download word file, 8 pages 5.0

According to W.E.B. Dubois, “American and Negro, tow souls, two thoughts, two unreconsiled stirrings: two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” This is an idea which was prevalent in Their Eyes Were Watching God. In her story, she elaborated on the theme of black females being divided and Janie’s strength keeping her from falling apart. The following essay will examine Hurston’s life, the time period in history in which she wrote, symbols in her story, the aspects of her piece that are significant, and what critics say about her piece.

Although Zora Neale Huston was a black female writer, she did not place much emphasis on the Jim Crow South even though that is where the story takes place. According to critics like Richard Wright, this is due to her “manipulating stereotypes of black people to attract white readers” (Contemporary Literary Criticism 207).

Another possible reason may be since the story takes place in a town similar to where she grew up in Eatonville, Florida which was an all black town. She “was never indoctrinated in inferiority, and she could see the evidence of black achievement all around her.” (Boyd 3). From this one can assume she did not perceive racism or segregation existing when she was younger. The all black town was similar to the backdrop for her story “Their Eyes Were Watching God. Although it was an all black town, it was not considered a slum. It was the first black city to become incorporated. Around 1925 she moved to New York, and since she wrote when she was living in New York, she is considered by some a writer of the Harlem Renaissance.

The Harlem Renaissance was a movement that began in the decade...