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Criticsm of Dialect

Naw it ain’t, it’s nature, cause nature makes caution. It’s de strongest thing dat God ever made, now. Fact is it’s de onliest thing God every made. He made nature and nature made everything else.”

While nature was not a significant theme or message proclaimed throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God, I felt that this quote best expressed the dialect and language that was a key component in conveying the author’s message. One of the most noticeable aspects of the novel is the clear contrast between the dialect of the African American characters and the more standardized English of the narrator and white characters. This dialect has been both criticized harshly and praised by critics. Richard Wright and Alain Locke were two African American critics who were enraged that Hurston had not focused on the issue of black repression and race relations in her novel.  They claimed Hurston presented an “idyllic view of black folk life” (Konzett 1).  Wright also stated “voluntarily continues in her novel the tradition which was forced upon the Negro in the theater, that is, the minstrel technique.” On the opposite end of the spectrum are the individuals who praise and admire the work Hurston did. “Dialect, black English vernacular and its idiom, as a literary device was not merely a figure of spoken speech; rather, for Hurston, it was a storehouse of figures. (Gates 251) My personal opinion is that Hurston did an excellent job of establishing the dialect. The dialect throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God shapes the imagery that I feel was the most useful and interesting assets of this novel.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

1 Woman, 3 Marriages

 

Throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie Mae Crawford, the main character and protagonist searches for a sense of fulfillment through men. She first marries a man by the name of Logan Killicks. Janie only marries Logan because it was her grandmother, as she calls Nanny wanted her to do. Nanny wanted Janie to have the financial security she never had rather than having romance and true love. During the first year of Janie and Logan’s marriage Logan pampers Janie yet Janie still cannot bring herself to love him and remains unhappy. Logan, sensing this ungratefulness from Janie, forces her to start working and perform manual labor. Janie becomes even more dissatisfied and her and Logan get into a big fight and Janie leaves. In town she meets a man named Jody Starks and she is swept away by his charisma and style. They soon marry, but once again Janie finds herself unhappy in her marriage. Janie still realizes she made a bad decision marrying a controlling and egotistical man. Unlike her previous marriage to Logan, Janie keeps her anger and resentment inside as the years go on and Jody’s cruel behavior towards Janie only increases in intensity. Violent beatings and constant verbal attacks are all Jody gave to Janie. About 8 years after their marriage Joy becomes terminally ill and while he is laying in bed dying Janie tells him about what an evil tyrant he was to her and how she was never satisfied with him. While Janie is finally venting her anger, Jody dies. Shortly after the Jody’s death, Janie meets a Tea Cake and feels the instant connection and “spark” that she lacked from her two previous relationships. Unlike the 2 men Janie was previously married to, Tea Cake was not wealthy or have a high social status. Tea Cake and Janie get married but shortly after Tea Cake runs off with Janie’s money and loses it gambling. Throughout the course of Janie and Tea Cake’s marriage, Tea Cup cheats, lies, and steals from Janie. After a heated argument one evening Tea Cake threatened Janie but Janie beat him to the punch and shot him. All 3 of these marriages were with 3 very different men but they all were corrupted by violence and hatred. These marriages showed Janie in the end that it was more important for her to follow her dreams and be independent rather than be with a man.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Key Quote About Men and Women

 

“Ships 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.” What was promulgated through this quote directly was that men can never fulfill their dreams but women have the ability to control and pursue their passions. Indirectly, this quote sums up one of the most pronounces themes throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God which was the difference between men and women. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, the developing theme was showing how men and women both need certain things from one another. Janie searched for a man who can give her all of the things she doesn’t have (social status, adventure, etc.) in three different men: Logan, Jody, and Tea Cup. All of these men attempt to give her those things she desires but are unable to. In the end it was Janie who had to chase after what she wanted for herself and could not rely on men to provide for her, therefore empowering her.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Similarities to Hester Prynne

  I enjoy taking 2 pieces of literature and being able to compare and contrast the characters, themes, and philosophies portrayed throughout them. Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Scarlet Letter have so many similarities among the societies despite being in way different time periods and settings. In many ways Janie Mae Crawford reminded me of Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter. They both were bold and beautiful women, in their own respects, who were cast down by society. Despite being ostracized by their communities, both Janie and Hester still held their heads high and refused to let the rigid and ignorant theories their society was based upon control them. Just like Hester Prynne wore the scarlet letter “A,” Janie always wears dirty overalls. The women in her neighborhood feel satisfaction when Janie Crawford wears her un-ladylike clothing just like the Puritans felt satisfaction from seeing the red “A” on Hester Prynne’s chest. In both circumstances, society is attempting to make both these women feel small and insignificant but both are so self assured and have high self respect, they do not society’s petty attacks. In both Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Scarlet Letter society is very hypocritical in that they put on their “do good Christian” mask, but they live in a tremendous amount of sin and denial.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Janie Mae Crawford: Defying Stereotypes

 Janie Mae Crawford is the main character in the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. The 1920′s in America present gender and racial stereotypes, both of which Jamie Crawford overcome and refuse to subject herself to. As an African American woman, but carries herself as a confident as any Caucasian woman at that time. She does not allow the opinions and crude comments of those in her community change her perspective of the strong and capable woman that she truly is. In addition to being cast down upon because of race, women at this time were still not granted equal rights as men. Being a woman did not stop Janie Crawford from being independent and experiencing things most women wouldn’t dare try. Also, Janie always wore overalls, which I saw as a message to the men in society that she was just as tenacious and forceful as they were. I sensed a strong sense of maturity in Jamie throughout reading Their Eyes Were Watching God. Despite defying her odds as an African American woman, she still did not harbor any hatred or malice towards the Caucasian community or men. She realized that their upbringing had limited their perspective on life so it was not completely their faults. These qualities I saw develop in Janie Crawford as the novel went on are what led me to the conclusion that she was a protagonist who’s purpose was to overcome the challenges of being African American and a woman at this time.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 
 
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