Nature and Black Femininity in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Tell My Horse
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This essay analyzes the role of nature in Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God and her anthropological piece Tell My Horse. To understand Hurston’s self-identification with aspects of the natural world and her use of natural images to reveal the interiority of her characters, I analyze themes such as Janie’s entwinement of self with the pear tree, the immense power of natural disasters, and the unpredictability of nature as reflected in gender roles. I argue that her anthropological research in Tell My Horse is the foundation for the development of Janie as a powerful black female protagonist and informs Hurston’s understanding of herself as a black female author and anthropologist. Through the lens of Voodoo and other Caribbean practices, the emphasis on female deities as dominant over natural forces allows for forms of female liberation. Hurston offers an innovative understanding of black femininity as inseparable from the natural world.
KeywordsBlack femininity Voodoo Tell My Horse Their Eyes Were Watching God
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