Thursday, February 26, 2009

Language and Imagery: Determining the Setting

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, language plays an important role throughout the story. Zora Neale Hurston uses language for the reader’s to get the feel of the setting in which the story takes place. Also, the language of the novel not only serves as dialogue it resembles an act of telling the story rather than writing. By using dialogue, the readers are able to visualize the story and the setting.
By reading the first chapter, I noticed that the story was set in a southern state and sometime during the 1920’s/1930’s. Hurston uses a great amount of dialogue to describe the characters and the imagery of the south. The dialogue seemed to be uneducated and I found it hard to fully understand which means it took place when African Americans were treated unfairly and weren’t offered the same education as whites. The difference between the narration and the dialogue is a drastic change and serves as an important purpose of showing the readers the difference between the informal language of the 1920’s and the Standard Written English of the present. The severe change of language portrays the importance of managing language and how different the past and the present are.
The imagery also serves as an important role in determining the place and time. On the first page, the narrator states that “it was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk” (Hurston 1). With this simple sentence I can already tell that it is a nice, hot day where people enjoy sitting outside and talking to their neighbors. I can tell that it takes place in the past because the imagery of people sitting outside on the porch in their chairs and interacting with their neighbors is something that people enjoyed doing before technology and cars.


  1. I also agree that Zora Neale Hurston uses very vivid imagery in Their Eyes were Watching God. The dialogs really show the type of people and the way they are living down in the south like Dani has mentioned. This quote that was mentioned in the blog “it was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk” (Hurston 1)really paints a picture of how it was like for them.

  2. I also think that Hurston uses imagery to emphasize different points that she wants people to pick up on. Like when she describes the pear tree, she uses words to describe the image so that you can completely imagine it in your mind. But there is also her other meaning to describing the scene. By taking so much time for the discription, she is able to draw your attention to it and make you notice.