Friday, February 13, 2009

Chapter 1- Community and Language

Their Eyes Were Watching God begins by setting the scene of the novel. The novel opens with several people sitting on a porch. They seem to be relaxing by talking with each other. They appear to be a close-knit community by the way that they are interacting with each other. They probably make up a small community because everyone knows everyone else. The description of the community may suggest that society, or the people around the central character, play a role in the novel. The picture shown represents a community that appears to be connected and cohesive. This may or may not be a good thing as the novel progresses. The people sitting on the porch are described as “These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human.” This quote gives the reader a glimpse of the lives of these people. They seem to be hard working but are most likely poor and accustomed to manual labor. By comparing them to animals during the workday, some type of social tension may be present among the community. After they are done working, they become different people who like to speak their minds and be around each other. The setting of the novel is important in introducing the story.
The heavy accented dialogue suggests that they are from the South. The dialogue helps to portray the characters better and allows the reader to understand the characters thoughts. The dialogue is unique in that it is not grammatically correct but it is a genuine representation of what the characters would sound like. The author is able to give each character their individual voice and retain her own voice when not using dialogue. Hurston language is descriptive and creative. She uses literary elements such as metaphors and similes to get her point across. Hurston’s language and dialogue helps to express the ideas in the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

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