Tensions in Individual and Community in “Their Eyes Were Watching God”


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Essay #: 055400
Total text length is 8,188 characters (approximately 5.6 pages).

Excerpts from the Paper

The beginning:
Tensions in Individual and Community in "Their Eyes Were Watching God"
Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, consistently constructs the individual in a great amount of tension with the community. From the very beginning of the novel through to its end, Hurston has created a feeling of hostility and stress between the main character, Janie Starks, and the community into which she walks after her life’s adventures. This community considers her to be too forceful and self-involved to be an exemplary representative of the female sex; she is not considered to be a proper Black woman, willing to bend to the needs of her husband(s) and community pressures. A similar construction of community evolves in the relationship...
The end:
.....God we see that individuals and their communities embody shifting relationships, sometimes sharing the same concerns and sometimes battling against one another. For Janie, the protagonist of the novel, community is something she might love to have, if she could be accepted for herself, as she is, without having to change her personal nature or choices; this is the case in Florida, where Joe becomes the odd man out. In the face of community hostility back at home, however, Janie prefers to stand on her own, by her life’s choices, rather than join a community that seems to want to tear her down for their own enjoyment.
Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1937/ 1991.