Friday, February 13, 2009

Watch your language! How Zora Neale Hurston's use of dialogue affects the perception of TEWWG

Zora Neale Hurston's use of dialogue is unique in that she stays faithful to the African American southern dialect of the time period. The impact of her dialogue is not in the words and dialect in and of itself, but it is in the way she integrates common expressions and trifle everyday sayings that really impacted me as a reader. For example when Janie says "Good Lawd, Phoeby! ain't you never goin' tuh gimme dat lil rations you brought me? Ah ain't had a thing on mah stomach today exceptin' mah hand." I liked how Janie expressed her hunger in a humerous way. Hurston is expressing the type of humor that African Americans of the time shared. Ironically, it is similar to the slapstick humor that was an unfortunate portrayal of black america during the early 20th century. However Hurston manages to use the same humor and portray it in a way that seems much more intelligent and human than was ever previously shown. The play on words humor really created a lighter tone without making a mockery out of anything.
Another reason this quote was significant was it shapes the characters of Janie and Phoeby. In the scene, Phoeby is questioning Janie about her recent excursion which seems to be something very personal and sensitive. Janie's jests show how comfortable she actually is with her personal situations and it is further evidence of Janie's possession of the elixer. All of this is given to us by Hurston in one line of dialogue. I hope this is just the first example of many of Hurston's powerful use of language and dialogue.

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