Friday, 16 January 2015

Review of "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

Currently it feels like I'm drowning in a sea of paper (and believe me, my room looks like it!) as essay season is peaking, but will be drawing to a close in the next couple of weeks, so I'll definitely be posting a lot more frequently then. This quote was one of a whole plethora that I could have chosen from for their piercing realism, but I feel as though this has a lot to say about how people act in our modern world. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God really made me think about how people act towards one another, and how we all need to come a long way before equality on any level is achieved.

Janie, a young girl with a chequered family history, is brought up by her grandmother. Encouraged to marry a man soon, so that her future does not become the same as her mother's past, Janie marries a man she does not love. However, Jody is just around the corner, tempting her with the thought of freedom, and the ability to escape to a new town run by coloured folk. Can she bear the thought of staying trapped by her husband's expectations of a mundane life for the pair of them? You had better read it to find out ...

This text dealt with a lot of issues that are still relevant today, despite being published back in 1937. Stop reading here if you don't want any spoilers. I think perhaps the most interesting part of the novel, and point that Hurston appears to wish to convey is that capitalism and racism are bound up within one another. When Janie and Jody move to the new town there is no mayor, so Jody becomes appointed as one. After this, he begins to increasingly place distance between him & Janie and the rest of the people in the town, looking down upon them as inferior beings. It is when this has occurred that racial issues are reinscribed to the town whilst everyone is a member of the same, or a similar race, Janie suddenly resembles the Queen of England, and Jody gains the air of a white man. Here the reader really gets a feel of how race and capitalism are linked: Jody's need to gain more possessions and improve labour output for the town requires him to treat the other town members as though he is superior to them, which makes them see him as a racially 'othered' figure.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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