The sun and the temporality of the natural world

“The people all saw her because it was sundown. The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky. It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. …But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human.” (Hurston 1)

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer. Janie had no chance to know things, so she had to ask. Did marriage end the cosmic loneliness of the unmated? Did marriage compel love like the sun the day?” (Hurston 21)

“They sat on the boarding house porch and saw the sun plunge into the same crack in the earth from which the night emerged.” (Hurston 33)

Notes: The appearance and disappearance of the sun informs the activities of daily life – this attention to the sun’s movement conveys an importance of adhering to nature’s given temporal order. Daily life is regimented by nature through the visual signal of the sun. Janie’s contemplation of marriage also includes attention to the sun, conveying that the sun is not only a visual marking for timekeeping in daily life but a symbol for its abstract occurrences.

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