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Published: 07-09-2019

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Their Eyes Were Watching God and Naturalism

“It [the tiny bloom] had known as her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously” (13). Zora Neale Hurston, an African-American author, is known for her expressive and imaginative language. Her use of imagery, particularly of nature, is utilised to stimulate the audience’s imagination whilst communicating deep significance in a novel. The imagery of nature in one particular of her most popular operates, Their Eyes Had been Watching God, creates a exclusive parallel amongst the two sides of nature: its beauty and its devastation.

Protagonist Janie Crawford’s perfect of contentment is shown in Hurston’s imagery of a pear tree, which represents nature’s beauty. The pear tree represents Janie’s idealized views of nature, as it demonstrates her naïve and romantic character which constantly seeks correct adore, and her idealism of the harmony in a marriage primarily based upon really like as she travels a path of self-discovery all through the novel. “Oh, to be . . . a tree in bloom! With kissing bees singing of the beginning of the world” (14). Hurston deliberately describes the pear tree in this style to show the relation among a blossoming tree, which is blooming as it grows, to the considerable character modifications in Janie as she marries distinct men in an attempt to learn happiness in a loving marriage. As the bees interact with the tree’s blossoms, she witnesses perfection in nature’s simple beauty, which is captured in Hurston’s imaginative description. This energy, passionate interaction, and blissful harmony are ideals Janie chases throughout the rest of the novel. As the protagonist sees harmony with nature, she in the end seeks harmony inside herself, as her final husband Tea Cake brings out correct love that is deeply rooted in Janie’s ideals of marriage.

The devastating aspects of nature in Their Eyes Have been Watching God are shown by way of the hurricane, as all-natural disasters depict Mother Nature’s most destructive elements. Hurston personifies the sea, the most destructive force of the hurricane, by comparing it to a monster that “had left its bed.” As Lake Okechobee breaks through the dikes with two hundred mile per hour winds, the author describes the monster with, “he seized hold of his dikes and ran forward till he met the quarters uprooted them like grass and rushed on right after his supposed-to-be conquerors, rolling the dikes, rolling the homes, rolling the people in the homes along with other timbers” (189). To describe the additional devastation, the sea is described as “walking the earth with a heavy heel.” The imagery offers a haunting description of how nature, usually thought of as peaceful, can also cause immense devastation. To expand on this description, Hurston shows the character’s thoughts with, “through the screaming wind they heard issues crashing and issues hurtling and dashing with unbelievable velocity . . . and the lake got madder with only its dikes amongst them and him [God]” (186).

The devastation of nature, shown in Hurston’s colorful imagery of the hurricane, greatly enhances the characters’ perception of God, the creator of the planet. The storm that eventually determines the path of the novel contains the very first appearance of the title as Tea Cake, Janie, and Motor Boat look up to the black sky and “their eyes query God.” Hurston writes, “night was striding across nothingness with the entire round world in his hands” (185). The imagery in this scene not only personifies nature and the storm, but instantly draws attention to the significance of the title inside the characters Janie and Tea Cake. The hurricane causes the characters to see God’s energy by means of nature, and thus submit to forces beyond their control as they comprehend they are inferior beings. Hurston makes numerous references to Janie and Tea Cake’s eyes, which are focused on God. As the two stand in awe of the storm, the author writes “they seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes have been watching God” (187). In following passages, the book reads, “their eyes have been questioning God” (186), showing the perplexity of the characters in God’s program for them as powerless human beings. It is interesting that two Christians question all that they know about God’s universal love and protection by way of a single event, as they comprehend that nature’s power far surpasses their personal. As the storm dies down and the two characters rest soon after wading via floods for a number of miles, Janie begins to notice the anguish and pain of the planet around her. The author remarks, “havoc was there [in a town of refuge] with her mouth wide open” (195). Not only do the characters submit to his almighty energy, but the hurricane identifies another question of how can be God a loving heavenly father when he creates such devastation.

The destructive side of nature brings about dark imagery that decides the novel’s conclusion. Chaos resulting from the hurricane brings about nature’s dark side as Tea Cake gets bitten by a rabid dog in an try to save Janie from drowning. The image of darkness is utilised to show fierceness and the destructive side of nature, contrasting earlier descriptions of nature’s divine beauty in the pear tree. To depict darkness in the scene with the dog, the novel reads, “the dog stood up and growled like a lion, stiff-standing hackles, stiff muscle tissues, teeth uncovered as he lashed up his fury for the charge” (194). Janie tells Tea Cake later on, “Ah do not speck you observed his eyes lak Ah did. He didn’t aim tuh jus’ bite me . . . he aimed tuh kill me . . . Ah’m in no way tuh fughit dem eyes [of] pure hate” (196). It is interesting that Janie remarks not on the dog’s fierceness, but on the hate and cruelty in his eyes. This quote relates back to the importance and significance of the title, as eyes watch God, and query the future. The mad dog’s eyes that infect the really like of Janie’s life life, Tea Cake, causing him to die, foreshadow the ending of the novel and trigger her to query God’s seemingly dark program in her life’s journey to locate contentment in herself and the planet about her.
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