A Womanist Study of Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
The African-American novelist Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is about a black female Jeanie Crawford, who undergoes a journey of proclaiming her ‘self’. Hurston’s novel explores the struggle of a black woman to break away from the triple oppression of gender, race and class. Janie succeeds in rebelling the pre-assigned gender roles and also violates the patriarchal notions of a black society. The black women have been sexually exploited both by the white men and the black men. Janie has passively accepted the conventional roles of a woman during her early age. But eventually she learns from the experiences of her three marriages. Janie succeeds in asserting her real self by defying the societal norms. She identifies herself with nature rather than the society in which she lives and defines herself through her association with nature. As it is understood from the novel that Janie finds solace in nature from the society which is oppressing her due to her sex, race and class. The ecocritical overtones are very prominent in the novel. Hurston speaks about the black woman’s issues in a white American society. In Alice Walker’s terms, Janie is a womanist because she transforms herself to a self-fulfilled and self-defined woman.
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