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The traditional human existence encounters immense and miniscule transformations in predominant viewpoints directly affecting subsequent proceedings as individuals embark upon an expedition of lucid self-expression to explore personal identity. Literary pieces produced during times of revolution to gain equality and flourishing cultural advancement as artistic innovations, primarily in the Harlem Renaissance, communicates deliberately the liberation of the individuals frequently portrayed as characters. The novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, composed by American folklorist and author, Zora Neale Hurston, depicts the arduous plight of Janie Crawford in fulfilling her visions of living devoid of constraints while in pursuit for a compassionate, genuine mate. Zora Neale Hurston’s distinctive childhood experiences depicted in “How it feels to Be Colored Me” in addition to utilization of literary technique consisting of dialect provided an authentic foundation for character development and the central purpose of existence as self-fulfillment.
Zora Hurston’s childhood and adolescent years as an African American female residing in a heavily discriminatory society significantly affected Hurston’s perspective and dynamic of composition. In Hurston’s Self Introduction, she dictates, “I remember the very day that I became colored (“How it feels to Be Colored Me”). This personal experience directly correlates with the protagonist of Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie Mae Crawford, when she is unable to identify herself in a photograph containing solely a single African American child. Fundamentally, Janie is the direct representation of Hurston in the literary piece exemplifying identical perceptions. Zora Hurston and Janie are strangers to themselves in the aspect of racial identity requiring physical reflection to discover superficial skin pigmentation. Janie exhibited initial astonishment while previously defining herself with surrounding Caucasian children. Hurston’s primary concentration was upon her abilities while society regarded skin color producing stereotypical standards. Subsequent to Joe Stark’s inauguration as mayor, Hurston states, “He didn’t want her talking after such trashy people” (54). Janie’s extensive journey is revealed in third person flashbacks to Janie’s dearest companion, Pheoby Watson including the entirety of details. Joe Starks was a pivotal mayor in the narrative as Hurston’s father was the mayor of Eatonville. Joe Starks and John Hurston strived to abrasively control the contemplations and undertakings of an inferior female; however, Joe Starks focused on the preservation of his authoritarian figure consequently obliging Janie to maintain an image of superiority and esteemed poise. On the contrary, John Hurston protected Zora Hurston by providing shelter from racial prejudices. Zora Hurston and Janie subsisted within financially underprivileged African Americans portraying monetary gains was not drastically imperative to either woman.
The familial and spousal relationships Zora Hurston fostered throughout many years inspired the publication of the literary masterpiece. Hurston’s father longed for Zora to become a clerical missionary; however, Hurston depended upon her mother for assistance and support in following her career aspiration as an author during incidents of her father’s disapproval (Boyd). John Hurston is precisely epitomized by Janie’s grandmother, Nanny; both desiring to mentor Zora or Janie in a direction they perceive will have a positive outcome. Following Nanny’s observation of Janie kissing a local resident, Nanny dictates, “Ah wants to see you married right away” (Hurston 13). Nanny’s dissatisfaction with Janie’s promiscuous behavior leads Janie on a path of three distinctive relationships; however she ultimately is lonesome. Zora Hurston’s mother provided a crucial parental figure therefore the novel is a symbol of appreciation. The biography of Hurston asserts, “When he demanded that she give up her career, she ended the affair, but wrote the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.” The tragic romance between a younger man Hurston experienced is portrayed in the relationship between Tea Cake and Janie. Janie and Tea Cake discovered one another after Janie failed in two marriages similar to Hurston’s circumstances. Janie defied societal expectations because the strength of her inner will conquered oppressing, external forces.
The American selection of Their Eyes Were Watching God can be viewed from various standpoints; the theme of searching for oneself is methodically produced as a sincere learning experience is recounted. Zora Neale Hurston’s distinctive childhood experiences depicted in “How it feels to Be Colored Me” in addition to utilization of literary technique consisting of dialect provided an authentic foundation for character development and the central purpose of existence as self-fulfillment. As a reader, I was captured by Janie’s passionate and enduring resolve to find veritable happiness for herself disregarding belittlement and failed relationships. True happiness is discovered only in times of self acceptance and ambition defining humanity as relentless to advance in a positive direction, but we as beings must choose to live not merely exist. Zora Hurston’s spirit will perpetually encompass this masterpiece as it serves to be a staple of American literature.
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