Literary Interventions in <i>Their Eyes Were Watching God</i>

Donna Aza Weir-Soley

in Eroticism, Spirituality, and Resistance in Black Women’s Writings

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033778
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039008 | DOI:
Literary Interventions in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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This chapter examines the ways in which Zora Neale Hurston's interventions in Their Eyes Were Watching God challenged and transformed the representations of black women in literary texts, thereby laying the groundwork for her legatees to continue the work of imagining the black woman as a sexually vibrant, spiritually whole, fully autonomous, perfectly imperfect subject. Throughout the text, Hurston inscribes Janie's spirituality as a significant aspect of her personality that enables her resistance to multiple systems of repression and domination. In addition to numerous references to the Christian concept of God, Hurston evokes, through specific signs and symbols, the presence of the Haitian Voudoun goddess of love and sexuality, Erzulie, as the leitmotif that introduces and sustains the synthesis of spirituality and sexuality in the portrayal of Janie's character. It also demonstrate how Hurston's text extends Erzulie's historiography to the African–American context.

Keywords: Zora Neale Hurston; black women; Erzulie; God; Haitian; Voudoun goddess; spirituality; sexuality; love; African–American

Chapter.  17856 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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