Initiation and Development in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Eugene Ngezem
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Like most works written after World War1, Their Eyes Were Watching God expresses the freedom Hurston yearned for and the hurdles to attain success and happiness in a world fenced on all sides by sturdy walls of separation and domination. At the backdrop of a society rife and rank in male domination is racism. Although Hurston has often been associated with the Harlem Renaissance and was unpopular among her contemporaries because her novel was believed not to deal with the social realism that characterized literature of her era, her works, especially Their Eyes Were Watching God were tailored to the difficulties of her life and those of black women in general. She was criticized for not dealing with politics and for not exposing the social injustice that exists in the world. Her worst criticism came from Richard Wright who characterize her novel as follows: “the sensory sweep of her novel carries no theme, no message, no thought. In the main, her novel is not addressed to the Negro, but to a white audience whose chauvinistic tastes she knows how to satisfy. She exploits that phase of Negro life which is "quaint," the phase which evokes a piteous smile on the lips of the "superior" race” ("Between Laughter and Tears," The New Masses). Nevertheless, Deborah G. Plant, in Every Tub Must Sit on Its Own Bottom, states,
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