“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.