Male figures in Zora Neal Hurston\'s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Alice Walker\'s The Color Purple

American Literature

The heroines of the books Alice Walker: The Color Purple and Zora Neal Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God have to go through the trials and tribulations of a woman to the whole male dominated society. They are raped, beaten, abused, neglected, etc... just to be told to shut up and take it.

On the very first pages of Their Eyes Were Watching God, the contrast is made between men and women, thus initiating Janie\'s search for her own dreams and foreshadowing the "female quest" theme of the rest of the novel. "So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don\'t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see" (Hurston, 14)

The plot centers around Janie, a character some critics say is mimicked after Hurston herself, and her journey toward self-discovery. As a victim of circumstance, Janie becomes a victim of her own position. She is raised to uphold the standards of her grandmother\'s generation; she is taught to be passive and subject to whatever life gives her. But as Janie grows older she begins to realize that the world may not like it, but she has got to follow her desires, not suppress them.

Janie is raised by her grandmother. Janie\'s grandmother set her goal for Janie\'s life by saying, "Ah wanted you to look upon yo\' self. Ah don\'t want yo\' feathers always crumpled by folks throwin\' up things in yo\' face" (Hurston, 14). Her grandmother has a desire to see Janie in a \'safe\' place, or in other words, a place where she will never have to want for anything.
Nanny tries to protect her young granddaughter Janie by marrying her to a man that can give Janie enough to eat and wear. Even though Nanny\'s idea of marriage is based on materials and she doesn\'t care much about Janie\'s feeling, she believes that everything she does is the best thing for Janie. She is just trying to do her best to keep Janie from suffering, and wishes Janie fulfill her dreams of freedom and joy.

Janie believes that she should fulfill her own dream by marrying a man that she loves, and she disregards the importance of material wealth. Janie only sees the reason to marry if it is true love. "...the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation". (Hurston, 24)

Janie loved her grandmother and wanted to please her even though she did not agreed with all of the plans her grandmother had made. "Janie had been angry at her grandmother for having \'taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon... and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her grandmother\'s neck tight enough to choke her\'" (Reich, 4).

Janie\'s grandmother was old and weak. She never had a person in her life who cared for her and truly wanted to look out for her well-being. As a result, she is frightened by Janie\'s refusal to marry for convenience instead of love. Janie\'s grandmother describes herself as "a cracked plate" (Hurston, 19). Janie learns a very important lesson from her grandmother. Not a lesson to emulate, but one to avoid. She does not want to be a cracked plate; she is tall and blossoming and can see what she wants in her life.

She does not get what she wants with Logan Killicks, her first husband. Janie married Logan because her grandmother wanted her to. Her grandmother could not understand why she did not love him, as he had sixty acres of land. Janie did not love him, and describes him as ". . . some