Their Eyes Were Watching God Nature Vs Nurture Analysis

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The conflicting relationship between nature and nurture has been and continues to be a source of debate for philosophers and psychologists alike. This question of whether or not cultural and societal customs affect or dictate an individual’s identity has been explored in literature, as well. Zora Neal Hurston and Mark Twain delve into the conflict of nature versus nurture by addressing the limitations of an individual’s manifestation of selfhood. Both Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson provide stories emphasizing the power of society and customs - or nurture - as the principal force defining an individual’s identity or character. In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neal Hurston addresses the external forces that play a major role in dictating one’s identity. The first example of this arises early on the novel, at the start of Janie’s flashback of her life story. As a result of being raised around the white children her grandmother worked for, Janie explains that she did not realize she was different until she saw a picture of herself at the age of six. She asserts that before seeing the photograph, she thought she was “just like de…show more content…
The customs and values of a society change the way an individual perceives his or her self, and others. The more an individual is exposed to societal customs or a particular perspective, the more likely he or she is to internalize these perceptions, unless a breaking point is reached. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie reaches her limit when she realizes “Tea Cake ain’t no Jody Starks” (Hurston 114) and that she has “lived Grandma’s way, now [Janie] means tuh live [hers]” (Hurston 114). Since this breaking point occurs after the deaths of both her grandmother and Jody Starks, one might deduce that isolation provides Janie with an opportunity for personal

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