Monthly Archives: November 2013

Diction

“Most of dese zigaboos is so het up over yo’ business till they liable to hurry theyself to Judgement to find out about you if they don’t soon know” ( Hurston 7)”.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel. New York: Perennial Library, 1990

Notes- The  best part about this sentence is that the unique type of diction that Hurston uses is represented. The vernacular is different and it exemplifies the time period in which the novel took place.

 

Their eyes were watching god

“Seeing the women as she was made them remember the envy they had stored up from other times. So they chewed up the back parts of their minds and swallowed with relish. They made burning statements with questions and killing tools out of laughs. It was mass cruelty. A mood come alive. Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song.”

Notes: What I especially liked about this passage was the way Hurston uses words and actions as sorts of weapons to cause mental harm. The women are expressing their envy by being indirect with things such as laughter and questions.

The judgement in watching

“Seeing the woman as she made them remember the envy they had stored up from other times. So they chewed up the back parts of their minds and swallowed with relish. They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughs. It was mass cruelty. A mood come alive. Words walking without masters, walking altogether like harmony in a song (2).

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel. New York: Perennial Library, 20006

Notes: There’s something to be said about watching in this book, about noticing one another, and the social cues that occur. And the overall amount of judging that’s going on.

Men’s wishes, women’s dreams

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time.That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly” (Hurston 1).

Notes: The first lines of the novel illustrate gender distinctions. It states that men’s wishes sometimes come to them through “tide” while others may not get it till the “Watcher” turns his eyes. “Time” is a problem because it mocks men’s dreams. Then the passage states that it is different for women since they “forget things they don’t want to remember.” They are not haunted by thoughts like the men. Their dreams are also the “truth” so in a way they don’t have wishes that are hard to attain like the men do.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel. New York: Perennial Library, 1990

Black Giving Birth to White

“Show me somethin’ dat caution ever made! Look whut nature took and done. Nature got so high in uh black hen she got tuh lay uh white egg…”

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes were Watching God (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1937), 79.

Notes: nature vs. caution – what is the significance of this?; black giving birth to white = white people’s dependence on black people?

Janie’s disillusionment

“The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up  the road towards way off. She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman” (25).

“Janie made her face laugh after a short pause, but it wasn’t too easy…It must have been the way Joe spoke out without giving her a chance to say anything one way or another that took the bloom off of things. But anyway, she went down the road behind him that night feeling cold. He strode along invested with his new dignity, thought and planned out loud, unconscious of her thoughts” (43).

“…but none had the temerity to challenge him. They bowed down to him, rather, because he was all of these things, and then again he was all of these things because the town bowed down” (50).

“She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. In a way she turned her back upon the image where it lay and looked further. She had no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man, neither any glistening young fruit where the petals used to be. She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about. Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them. She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen. She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them” (72).

Notes: constant disillusionment, reality not aligned with her expectations,  Logan & Jody reality vs. images of trees/flowers/blooming nature clashing, constant hope/ belief of something better out there for her

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper Collins, 1937.

Janie Looking at Herself in the Mirror

“Years ago, she had told her girl self to wait for her in the looking glass.  It had been a long time since she had remembered.  Perhaps she’d better look.  She went over to the dresser and looked hard at her skin and features.  The young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place.  She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair. The weight, the length, the glory was there.  She took careful stock of herself, then combed her hair and tied it back up again. Then she starched and ironer her ace, forming it into just what people wanted to see, and opened up the window and cried, “Come heah people! Jody is dead.  Mah husband is gone form me” (87)

Hurston, Zora N. (1937) Their Eyes Were Watching Go.  Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.

Notes: passage marks a turning point in Janie’s life with the death of Jody for she is free to do whatever she wants; the mirror scene is a moment of self- realization for Janie as she realizes her freedom and beauty; Janie’s act of letting down her hair symbolizes her liberation from Jody’s suppression. No longer does Janie have to imprison her hair in head-rags and she can do whatever she wants; the line “young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place” depicts how despite the fact that Janie has aged, she still possesses her beauty as the “weight, length, and glory was there”; Janie’s pretense of faking remorse for Jody’s death reminds me of Roxana where Roxana also fakes her for the Landlord’s death, however, both Roxana and Janie have different reasons for their remorse: Janie fakes tears for Jody’s death since she realizes that her remorse is what the world wants to see whereas Roxana fakes tears in order to gain the sympathy of the people.

Untouchable, but organic

“…He seemed a true child of the outcaste colony, where there are no drains, no light, no water; of the marshland where people live among the latrines of the townsmen, and in the stink of their own dung scattered about here, there and everywhere; of the world where the day is dark as the night and the night pitch-dark. He had wallowed in its mire, bathed in its marshes, played among its rubbish-heaps; his listless, lazy, lousy manner was a result of his surroundings. He was the vehicle of a life-force, the culminating point in the destiny of which would never come, because malaria lingered in his bones, and that disease does not kill but merely dissipates the energy. He was a friend of the flies and the mosquitoes, their boon companion since his childhood” (84).

Anand, Mulk Raj. New York, New York: Penguin Books, 1935. Print.

notes: the role of environment, “nature”, of the complexity of this character

The Importance of Clothes

“And he had soon become possessed with an overwhelming desire to live their life. He had been told they were sahibs, superior people. He had felt that to put on their clothes made one a sahib too. So he tried to copy them in everything, to copy them as well as he could in the exigencies of his peculiarly Indian circumstances (11)”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York:  Penguin Group, 1940. Print

 

Notes: Colonialism, out appearance is important to fit in.  The importance of clothes. What people are willing to do to become superior, better.