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The Provocateur Newsletter: July, 2021

In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, protagonist Janie Crawford offers a glimpse into how the expectations of others influenced her life and more importantly, her relationship with herself. Utilizing Janie’s perspective as a Black woman in the early 20th century, Hurston offers a critique of the treatment of women in society and the suppression of their freedom to live authentically. Often in Janie’s community, women were only valued by their marital status and rarely by their own achievements, but Hurston provides a holistic representation of Janie’s identity by delving into Janie’s complex and evolving relationship with herself. Janie becomes empowered to reject abusive relationships and oppressive societal norms, allowing herself the space to embrace a more dynamic version of her womanhood. I read Hurston’s novel in my American Studies class, and Janie’s character has become a role model for me and the person I want to become. -- Rose

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