Hurston Novels

The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s is a great time for black artists; it is
a rebirth of art, music, books and poetry. In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their

Eyes Were Watching God Janie, the protagonist, is treated kindly for a black
women. She does not go through the torment of black culture during that era or
the previous eras. Throughout the book Hurston "fibs" about racial
oppression. Janie gets respect by the white people she encounters. Hurston makes
the reader imagine that African-American life is easygoing. Richard Write’s
critique of Their Eyes Were Watching God is accurate and therefore, the book
should not be included in the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston breaks several of the
themes of the Harlem Renaissance. One in particular is to make other Americans
aware of the African-American experience. Richard Write states, "Their eyes,
as a novel, exploits those quaint aspects of Negro life that satisfied the
tastes of a white audience. It did for literature what the minstrel show did for
theater, that is, made white folks laugh"(1). Write, as a critic, fulfills his
duty to critique literature truthfully. In Hurston’s novel she rarely states
anything about the reality of the South at that time. ‘"Brothers and
sisters, since us can’t never expect tuh better our choice, Ah move dat we
make Brother Starks our Mayor until we can see further"’(40). In this
passage Hurston uses a soft pleasant type of diction. In that south at the time,
people were not accepted into towns if they were new to the area. Jody,

Janie’s second husband, takes charge and becomes the mayor. The people in the
novel respect Jodie and Janie. Being a black man and also the mayor seems a
little strange for the South. Most white people of the South dislike black
people because most black people are thought to be only "slaves" even though
slavery was abolished. Towards the end of the novel Janie is on trial for the
murder of Tea Cake, who is Janie’s third husband. ‘"We find the death of

Vergible Woods to be entirely accidental and justifiable, and that no blame
should rest upon the defendant Janie Woods"’(179). Janie is found not guilty
for the murder of her husband. The reader thinks that Janie is really lucky. She
is, but in history books black people are always guilty in every single trial.

It is unheard of that a white jury could find a black person not guilty. Janie
accepts that although she is not white; she still gets respect by everyone in
the town. For the duration of the book Hurston does not write to protest racial
oppression. This breaks yet another theme of Harlem Renaissance writing. She
discusses black life as if it were the same as white life. She neglects to
mention any information to protest racial oppression. Hurston does this by
writing a melodious novel; it is very appealing to the reader. ‘"What she
doin’ coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on?
-Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in?"’(2). In this passage

Hurston appeals to the reader. She is trying to use pleasant vernacular while
getting her point across. No where does Hurston attempt to state any opposition
to racial oppression. Again, she is making the book sound like black culture is
effortless and simple. ‘"Tea Cake, Ah ‘clare Ah don’t know whut tuh make
outa you. You’se so crazy. You better lemme fix you some breakfast"’(102).

This sounds exactly like a normal white person conversation. Most blacks of that
era could only dream about the getting breakfast in morning. In tradition most
blacks would wake up on cold hard earth and go straight to work, and yet Hurston
disregards to state reality. Even though the book is fiction, it must obey the
three themes of the Harlem Renaissance. Racial oppression includes lynching and

Hurston does not express these racist actions. In the course of the novel Janie
does not receive much punishment from any people, and the punishment she does
receive is not severe. The only time she is hurt is when Tea Cake beats her to
show the town that he is the boss. ‘"Good evenin’, Mis’ Starks," he
said with a sly grin as if they had a good joke together. She was in favor of
the story that was making him laugh before she even heard it"’(90). This
does not sound like Hurston has written the truth about the South. This whole
book contains more fiction than non-fiction. Therefore critiques should ignore
this book in the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston’s