Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chillin' on The Porch: Hurston's use of Porches as a Motif

In almost every chapter of this book thus far, there has been someone who has lazed on a porch chatting the day away. In the beginning it was the ladies gossiping about Janie's return. Later it was Sam, Lige, and Walter ridiculing Matt Bonner. And after that it was the gathering point for Janie's suitors. All of these times the porch is serving as a place where the citizens of Eatonville can gather and socialize. Janie is never directly involved in any of these gatherings but is usually a spectator and not a contributor to the conversation.
These scenes promote Hurston's theme of Janie as a special character in the society of Eatonville. She is set apart and in some cases made to be inferior by Joe and the rest of the citizens of Eatonville. The women at the beginning were also talking behind her back and gossiping about her which also shows that Janie is somewhat of an outcast. This helps Hurston develop the idea of Janie as someone who is more enlightened than the rest of Eatonville. Evidenced by her eventual standing up for herself against Joe as well as her initial interest in Tea Cake. Throughout the novel so far, the porch has been a place where the "in" crowd gathers, and seems to be a major setting in the novel.

1 comment:

  1. Highly effective observation. Do you consider the porch to be a motif in the story? If so, explain. I agree that it serves as a gathering place, where the reader can attain a better understanding of Eatonville from the citizens' perspectives. Hurston stages these porch scenes in order to celebrate the folklore, common speech, and interactions of her culture.