Sexuality In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God presents a female protagonist heroine named Janie. Her longing desire for love and quest to becoming an intelligent young black woman makes this novel one of Hurston’s greatest. The notion of body and sensuality in Hurston’s novel have always been critiqued by several perspectives. Helene Cixous French author of The Laugh of the Medusa, focuses solely on the hostility toward the patriarchal binaries. Cixous believes that feminine writing is connected to the body and she views feminine sexuality as multiple and resourceful. Cixous proposed the idea of écriture féminine which tries to eliminate all cultural oppressions by creating a subversive language. The concept of body and sexuality is very…show more content…
Cixous wants women to go against the patriarchy by inserting their bodies into writing. Furthermore, Cixous sanctions women’s writing in The Newly Born Woman by stating that: “Women have almost everything to write about femininity: about their sexuality, that is to say, about the infinite and mobile complexity of their becoming erotic, about the lightning ignitions of such a minuscule- vast region of their body…”(Cixous & Clemente, p.94). Cixous is basically saying that women are very much aware of the power that their body possess. The quote seems to be a dissing against psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud that believe women’s eroticism comes from their own patriarchal and phallocentric theories. Next, Cixous wants women to write their bodies in order to defy “omission from cultural arenas.” By inserting her own body in her text, Hurston has confirmed her literary arrival. Zaddie Smith, a literary critic believes that Hurston legacy is not a consequence of “the Black Female Tradition,” but it’s her own self that makes her who she is (2009). Smith goes on to say that Hurston is “one of the most “exceptional among black women writers as Tolstoy is among white writers” (p.8). In addition, Smith also adds that Hurston is more focused on gender issues and roles unlike her counterparts that are more into racial issues. Another critic of Hurston points out the significant features…show more content…
The scene is describing Janie’s womanly figure as she’ arriving in Eatonville wearing overalls. The entire community is looking and making various remarks about “her firm buttocks” that are shaped like “grape fruits,” also her “great rope of black hair” that blows in the wind and her “pugnacious breasts” that pierce through her shirt (Hurston, 2006, p.2). While the females sit in judgment of Janie and find fault in her overalls, the male community sits in awe and mentally records the entire scene. There are disputable points are necessary to be discussed regarding the aforementioned passage. The first point to be mentioned here is that the story does not depict “an artist as an individual of high sensitivity with a portable pedestal” as Kubitschek (1983) convincingly argues, “but as a middle-aged, blue-jeaned woman talking with neighbors” (109). Through Janie’s entrance into Eatonville, Hurston is deconstructing issues of gender and class. Also, the first three pages of the novel display Janie’s power to confront the oppressive attitudes of her community. Her beauty mixed with her strength serve as a threat to Eatonville’s social system. Tom McGlamery (2004) points out that Janie’s organs have to be considered as “markers of an essentially undiminished “strength” that both sets in motion the anarchy at the heart of Eatonville and protects her from its effects” (p. 98).

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