Expanding the Black Woman’s Horizon: Picking From a Higher Bush Motif in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
Owing to discrimination, woman in most cultures is by tradition inhibited from attaining her full capabilities in life. In the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston attempts to expose how the tragic condition of the black woman in America was aggravated by slavery when she suffered multiply first as a slave, then as a black and ultimately as a woman. The novelist also proffers possible roles which the black woman could adopt after the Slave Emancipation in order to raise her social status. That is what is referred to by Nanny, the grandmother of the protagonist Janie, as “picking from the higher bush and the sweeter berry.” Since Hurston is more concerned with getting the black woman better integrated in society after the Slave Emancipation, the sociological qualified by the feminist critical theory and practice will be employed in this essay. While bringing up Janie, Nanny overprotects her and shields her from the realities of life in order to give her more comfort and raise her social status. In her quest, Janie discovers that it is not comfort or money that brings about love and peace but sacrificial love and sharing of one’s life. After her two earlier loveless marriages to fairly rich older men, Janie eventually finds true love in Tea Cake, a younger, cheerful and more loving and caring husband who treats her like an equal and not like a work-ox or a mule of the world the way her two earlier husbands attempted to treat her.
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