Friday, February 13, 2009

Setting and Location

The most striking aspect of the first chapter in Their Eyes Were Watching God, was the vivid mental picture it produced. Zora Neale Hurston used such descriptive language, that in my mind, I painted a detailed picture of the scene. I could picture the scene as if I was present, sitting on the porch with the neighbors. I could feel the muggy night air interrupted by the occational breeze. The whispers and southern drawls as those around me traded the days gossip and some remembered story. The way in which Zora Neale Hurston described the setting, made me feel as if I was a part of the story, rather than merely a reader.
There are certain lines from the book, that when I read them, instantly transported me to the porch, where I sat and gossiped with my neighbors. One such line, though simple in language, caused such a strong mental image, that I had to force myself back into reality. "The people all saw her come because it was sundown. The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky. It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. 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. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed notions through their mouths. They sat in judgment." This quote painted a picture of a dirt road lined with small houses, whose front porches touched the road. I saw darkness illuminated by bright spots scattered accross the sky. In the shadow of the porches sat clusters of neighbors. The neighbors, tired after a long days work, sat lazily and gossiped. They swapped stories and news like it was their job. They spoke openly, with no constraint, as if daring the others to contradict them. This is how they sat as Janie Starks traveled down the road towards them. As Hurston described Janie's approach, I could feel the hostility aimed towards her. I could see the neighbors stare at the approaching figure. This is the mental picture that this one quote painted in my mind. The simple language spoke a thousand words in only a few sentences. These thousand words created a picture of the scene, so clear, it was as if I was present.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Kirsten that when Zora Neale Hurtson was describing the scene of the first chapter that I could picture it all in my head. She uses such great detail that I was able to relate to the scene. I could also imagine the porch scene because when I use to go to my Nani's we would always sit on her white porch and talk to her neighbors. It brought me back to my childhood and I was able to relate to the story in some way.