Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God”

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In 1937, Zora Neale Hurston, an African American, wrote the story “Their Eyes Were Seeing God.” The main character, Janie Crawford, is described as naive, excited, and optimistic about the future. Nonetheless, she discovers over time that the struggles are many and that everyone must fight to succeed, “ripening from a lively, yet voiceless, young girl into a woman with her finger on the trigger of her destiny” (Hurston 34). The narrator’s relationship with the viewer in this article, as well as the replication of the culture, are critical to the themes of this novel. The people who are ay most idlers eavesdrop and talk about Janie, she makes her return to Eatonville. The narrator, Janie, has a constant interaction with the members of the community, especially at Everglades and Eatonville which are the core settings of the story. From the interactions, she finds warmth, courage, connection, safety, and at best she is lifted in her spirit, a state which makes her thinking of becoming one of them. The element of bonding and togetherness is seen when the hurricane comes, and the members including Janie, Cake, and Tea are in the shanties together, “sat in company with the others in other shanties” (Hurston 56). Nevertheless, Janie is capable of containing her self-control over what she does not like, as she rebukes those who gossip and the idlers in the community. Her strict and orderly personality makes the rest of the members to developed hate against her, and mock her for being independent and domineering. At the end of the story, when individuals have to make personal sacrifices, Janie boycotts and make it clear that she does not fear death as many people of the community confounded her, instead, she worries being misunderstood.

Form the text Their Eyes Were Watching God; it becomes very clear that the role that storytelling plays in the formation and maintenance of communities is critical. This is because the different social, cultural, and aesthetic roles that folktales play in the text are significantly recognizable especially through the narrator of the story, Janie. The relationship between individuals and their communities in the novel can be described as dependent and of convenience, because nobody goes against the grain, rather, people are dogmatic, except Janie who tries to be different. Indeed, on critical analysis, it is typical that Zora Neale Hurston upholds the three Communities and Three Perspectives of Folktales are a product of tradition and; Associated with oral tradition, Personal Experience, Literary Artist, as well as the setting of Eatonville, Florida (Hurston 112). Indeed, the relationship between the main character, the narrations and storytelling mechanisms she utilizes and the expertise for social cohesion she harbors contributes very much to community building. The author makes Janie stand out as an icon who towers above her peers in thought and decision making. She leads, and other are challenged to follow. Nevertheless, the bonds of status quo seem to hold the rest of the members of the community back, and they cannot embrace change.

An Individual and Her Communities in Their Eyes Were Watching God is deeply evidenced. Indeed, there is a vexed relationship between individuals and the communities to which they belong, hence autonomy versus community. A careful approach in the text reveals Fundamental contradiction: American culture celebrates autonomy and democratic collectivity in conflict with one another and Hurston presents community as necessary for women. On the one hand, Tension shapes the lives of women; communal belonging is oppressive for women. On the other, Janie’s journey is defined by race, gender, intersectionality, double oppression faced by black women who were the mule of the world genders, which means they have unique burdens and endurance that nobody else has. Indeed, The Eatonville episodes show that the barriers from the community are gendered and classed, as Joe forbids Janie from giving speeches (Hurston 98). The point the author brings on board is about an individual finding her voice within a community which is manifested in how Janie tells her stories in the final third of the novel, and she consequently mirrors a part of the wider community to illuminate the otherwise hidden burdens imposed by the community as she Janie refuses to suppress her desires to conform to community norms.

Nussbaum’s “Good Kings Bad Kings”

On the other hand, Susan Nussbaum’s “Good Kings Bad Kings” Speaks more about the neglected people because of their disabilities in the society, hence the endemic abuses they face in the nursing homes. The injustices committed against such people are not only institutionalized according to the author, but they have also been internalized into basic human operations of day to day life. In fact, one of the medical officers says, “He had a product to sell, and the product was nursing-home patients” (Nussbaum 28). The primary themes in the story are about the narrator and the Community, and Exclusion. Moreover, exclusion and resistance and violence is practiced, and those excluded are seen as different based on the orchestrated Structural violence that is meted against them. The author strategies the need to Adapt- organization standing up for the sake of Fighting for disability integration act.  For the most part, those discriminated against because of disability could be described as lacking ability; having the inability, incapacity, and physical weakness, A condition that limits their movements, senses, or activities. 

A reading of the novel Good Kings Bad Kings reveals the institution as a “system” put in place to cause frustrations for the disabled. Yesenia uses ableist terms to describe them; Joanna attempts to convince Yesenia to use more inclusive language “It takes business acumen to run a nursing facility” (Nussbaum 25). Nevertheless, the system doesn’t put a stop to Jerry for instance, and the Autonomy is important to the characters but is unable to achieve it for the most part. The act of Neoliberal privatization of state-run facilities Costs more money for patients. On the one hand, since defining the young adults as children are more profitable for the facility, they are stripped of their actual identity and autonomy- this does not allow them to grow. On the other hand, Effects of the “system” on residents and caregivers makes nobody willing to help change the corrupted system because of fear and lack of ability to fight against the power that is. Indeed, Jimmie’s actions deeply scar the people, “And I won’t ever forget what Jimmie did. None of us children or young adults will” (Nussbaum 208). The rigid leadership makes the system ultimately not to change.

The role the narrator`s relationship plays in the reproduction of the community is critical in this text. Indeed, Community and resistance, as well as Community formation, remains core. In the book, it appears that resistance often have some sad deaths, but ultimately not everything is fixed. The occurrence is meant to encourage the reader to take action and fight for change which goes beyond the book itself. The author affirms through the plot of events that resistance is essential for community-building. The “systems” of liberty representation and academia Scripps, along with other private and liberal colleges, still supports the status quo. Efforts to overcome are tried to challenge, but the outcomes are no better because still a system caught in a cycle is evidenced. Systems are inevitable, and how to move forward and move past that is critical and complicated. Interdependence and disability justice is hard to find or to be achieved in this society. Despite the many struggles that have been, little has been realized so far, and those who are disabled still suffer. In fact, Mia Mengus quote speaks volumes about this, “we want to move away from the “myth of independence” that everyone can and should be able to do everything on their own” (Nussbaum 278). It is surprising and at the same time saddening that there were 11,008 people in disability centers at first but then with a 1500 percent increase in people held in reform or recovery centers in just a few years, the figures are worrying. This book, therefore, explains the process of reproducing and formation of a community. However, the challenges are many and hard to overcome.  

Works Cited

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston – Google Books. University of Illinois Press, 1937 ISBN 0252017781, 9780252017780, 1937. Web.

Nussbaum, Susan. Good Kings, Bad Kings – Susan Nussbaum – Google Books. Oneworld Publications, 2014 ISBN 1780743866, 9781780743868, 2014. Web.

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