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Published: 08-09-2019

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The Use of Name Significance in Their Eyes Were Watching God

With their significance ranging from one’s location of origin to one’s occupation, last names have been employed to distinguish and describe men and women for centuries. In the novel Their Eyes Had been Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston, the author, experiments and utilizes name significance as a indicates of characterization. All through the course of the novel, Janie Mae Crawford, the main protagonist, goes by means of three marriages. Each and every of her husbands, Logan Killicks, Jody Starks, and Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods, boast substantial names that reflect their personalities and their therapy of Janie. Utilizing this special kind of characterization, Hurston is in a position to portray Janie’s values and ideals by comparing them with those represented in her husbands’ names.

Hurston uses name significance to demonstrate the conflicting personalities of Janie Crawford and Logan Killicks. When Janie is but sixteen years old, Nanny, her grandmother, pressures her into marrying Logan Killicks. Nanny, approaching death, just desires to assure Janie’s safety by marrying her off to a wealthy man. Nevertheless, in carrying out so, Nanny ignores her sentiments altogether. Accordingly, Janie, who previously believed that “husbands and wives always loved each and every other” (21), by no means comes close to loving Logan, who she describes as “some ole skullhead in de grave yard” (13). She quickly concludes that “some folks never ever was meant to beloved and he’s one particular of ‘em” (24). In addition to the lack of adoration, they appear polar opposites and while Janie desires to get in touch with nature and find her personal voice as a lady in the world, Logan simply issues himself with functioning and acquiring via life one particular day at a time. As their marriage progresses, he increasingly tries to domesticate Janie’s free of charge spirit and make her function on the farm like a mule. Accordingly, all of these variations and fallacies are reflected in the name Logan Killicks. The words log killer can effortlessly be derived from this name. For Janie, who identifies with nature and desires “to be… any tree in bloom,” this presents a conflict (11). As Logan is basically a log killer and an opposing force to nature, he serves as a foil to Janie and threatens her wellbeing and happiness. Consequently, it is evident that by deciding on the name Logan Killicks, Hurston desires to reveal Logan’s imply-spirited personality even though strengthening Janie’s character.

Though Janie’s second husband, Jody Starks, initially embodies some of Janie’s beliefs, he quickly comes to reject them. When Janie runs away from Logan Killicks with Jody Starks, she does so due to the fact she feels that even though Jody does not represent “sun-up and pollen and blooming trees… he sp[eaks] for far horizon… adjust and possibility,” qualities that Janie deems essential (29). However, as Jody becomes mayor of Eatonville and ascends on a power trip, these whimsical and capricious ideals quickly disappear. What takes their place is oppression, jealousy, and domination. When analyzing his name, it is evident that the word stark is an vital clue. Stark signifies “harsh, grim, or desolate.” These adjectives adequately describe Janie’s marriage with Jody, 1 marked by a lack of passion and domestic disturbance. The word stark also means “rigid dead,” which fits quite appropriately as on his deathbed, Jodie shows each mental and physical “rigidness.” When visiting Jody, Janie unleashes years of repressed angst and verbally assaults him. She targets his stubbornness in certain and tells of how Jodie “changes every little thing but nothin’ do not modify [him] – not even death,” representing Jodie’s emotional “rigidness” (87). When Jodie dies, he is described as having “cut off his breath and left his hands in a pose of agonizing protest,” depicting a scene of physical “rigidness” (87). Hurston, in impact, chooses the adjective stark for its wealthy denotations and uses it to fortify Janie’s character by contrasting it to Jody’s character.

Following the death of Jody Starks, Janie Crawford finds an ideal connection with Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods, a young man whose values are represented in his name. In contrast to the other residents of Eatonville, Tea Cake is special, adventurous, and eccentric. He and Janie quickly create a distinct, profound relationship. Following their first encounter, she tells of how it “seem[s] as if she ha[s] identified him all her life” (99). Like Janie, Tea Cake is enamored with nature and with each other, they move to the Everglades, a all-natural area with “ground so wealthy that almost everything [goes] wild” (129). Once married and settled, they reside in such harmony that Janie experiences “a self-crushing love” and “her soul craw[s] out from its hiding place” (128). This coheres to Hurston’s use of name significance as the name Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods can very easily be interpreted to imply virgin woods. Unlike log killer, virgin woods coincides with Janie’s passion for trees and nature. Furthermore, his alias, “Tea Cake,” reflects on his romantic personality, as he is “as sweet as all dat [tea cake]” (97). Whereas the names of Logan Killicks and Jody Starks reflect their difference with Janie, Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods’ highlights the similarities and additional distinguishes Janie’s character.

In her novel Their Eyes Have been Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston, uses name significance as a means of characterization. She does so to fantastic impact and by using this technique, she is capable to portray the values and ideals of Janie Mae Crawford and her husband’s. The names Logan Killicks, Jody Starks, and Vergible “Tea Cake” Wood, all include profound significance and with their incorporation into the novel, Hurston creates a exclusive and profound method of characterization.
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