Their Eyes Were Watching God

Hurston's and Larsen's Commentary on Racial Loyalty College

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and Passing by Nella Larsen both feature black females as their main characters. Hurston’s novel follows a woman named Janie through her life, while Larsen’s follows Clare, a black woman who passes for white. The similarities continue through the ending of each novel, since in each case a main character dies. In Hurston’s case, Janie ends up killing her husband, Tea Cake. In Larsen’s case, Clare dies under unclear circumstances. By looking at the differences between Clare's and Janie’s choices and their outcomes, one can argue that Janie was able to find peace in her life, while Clare left an unfulfilled life behind. If one regards these works as part of a wider commentary, one can find that Clare’s death serves as punishment for her attempts to erase her blackness, while Janie’s peace serves as a reward for embracing hers.

Throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God, the main character Janie recognizes and embraces her blackness. This is the standard way in which she lives her life. Janie even mentions the first time she learned that she was black, when she saw a photograph of herself and the white children she played with: “Aw, aw! Ah’m colored,” [1] she remembers thinking. This...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 741 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4426 literature essays, 1448 sample college application essays, 183 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in