Janie discovers her will to find her voice when she is living with Logan. Since she did not marry him for love, tensions arise as time moves on and Logan begins to order her around.
Although she represented black folk culture in several genres, Hurston was drawn to the novel form because it could convey folklore as communal behavior.
Hurston knew that much of the unconscious artistry of folklore appears in the gestures and tones in which it is expressed and that it gains much of its meaning in performance. By inventing a narrator who witnesses, even participates in, the performance of folk traditions, she combated the inevitable distortion of an oral culture by its textual documentation.
She wanted to refute contemporary claims that African Americans lacked a distinct culture of their own. Her novels depict the unconscious creativity of the African American proletariat or folk. They represent community members participating in a highly expressive communication system that taught them to survive racial oppression and, moreover, to respect themselves and their community.
They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.
Why should African Americans wish to imitate a white bourgeoisie? Hurston also had a psychological motive for presenting black folk culture.
She had fond memories of her childhood in the all-black town of Eatonville, where she did not experience poverty or racism.
Finally, in Eatonville, she had a close relationship with and a strong advocate in her mother. In representing the rich culture of black rural southerners, she was also evoking a happier personal past. Her novels are a series of attempts to develop such contexts.
Initially, she maintained the southern rural setting for black folk traditions. Though Hurston claimed that an unhappy love affair she had had with a man she met in New York was the catalyst for her second novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the feeling rather than the details of that affair appear in the novel.
The work takes the reader back to Eatonville again and to the porch-sitting storytellers Hurston knew as a child.
Moses, Man of the Mountain With her third novel, Moses, Man of the Mountain, however, Hurston turned in a new direction, leaving the Eatonville milieu behind. The novel retells the biblical story of Moses via the folk idiom and traditions of black rural southerners.
Hurston leaves much of the plot of the biblical story intact—Moses does lead the Hebrews out of Egypt—but, for example, she shows Moses to be a great hoodoo doctor as well as a leader and lawgiver.
In effect, Hurston simulated the creative processes of folk culture, transforming the story of Moses for modern African Americans just as slaves had adapted biblical stories in spirituals.
Hurston may have re-enacted an oral and communal process as a solitary writer, but she gave an imaginative rendering of the cultural process all the same. With this novel, however, she did not create a new context for the representation of folk culture.
Rather, she turned away from the effort to present black folklore. Seraph on the Suwanee is set in the rural South, but its central characters are white. Her white characters, perhaps unintentionally, often use the black folk idiom.
Hurston knew that black folk culture was composed of brilliant adaptations of African culture to American life. She admired the ingenuity of these adaptations but worried about their preservation.
Would a sterile, materialistic white world ultimately absorb African Americans, destroying the folk culture they had developed? Her first two novels demonstrate the disturbing influence of white America on black folkways. The novel charts the life of John Pearson, laborer, foreman, and carpenter, who discovers that he has an extraordinary talent for preaching.
His sexual promiscuity, however, eventually destroys his marriage and his career. Though his verbal skills make him a success while his promiscuity ruins him, the novel shows that both his linguistic gifts and his sexual vitality are part of the same cultural heritage. His sexual conduct is pagan, and so is his preaching.
Indeed, they speak through all members of the African American community, if most intensely through John. A key moment early in the novel, when John crosses over Big Creek, marks the symbolic beginning of his life and shows the double cultural heritage he brings to it.
He begins to think about the girls living on the other side of Big Creek: He stripped and carried his clothes across, then recrossed and plunged into the swift water and breasted strongly over. Members of his congregation subscribe to differing views of the spiritual life.
The view most often endorsed by the novel emerges from the folk culture.Writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston was a fixture of the Harlem Renaissance and author of the masterwork 'Their Eyes Were Watching God.' Upon receiving a Guggenheim fellowship, Hurston.
Their Eyes Were Watching God begins at the end of the story: we first see Janie after she has already grown old, concluded the adventures that she will relate, and been “tuh de horizon and back.” Her story then spins out of her own mouth as she sits talking to Pheoby.
Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, – January 28, ) was an influential author of African-American literature and anthropologist, who portrayed racial struggles in the early 20th century American South, and published research on Haitian voodoo.
Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, her most popular is the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. The theme of identity can be seen throughout Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, of a story of a women’s journey for self-identification.
Through symbolic imagery, such as the pear tree, Janie’s hair, and the horizon, Hurston ultimately shows a women’s quest for her identity. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel by Zora Neale Hurston that was first published in Get a copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God at timberdesignmag.com Buy Now.
Hurston uses many symbols and metaphors in Their Eyes Were Watching God to develop Janie's story. Symbols stand for, represent, or suggest another thing.
A metaphor, however, is a figure of speech containing an implied comparison, in which a word or phrase ordinarily and primarily used for one thing.