How Does Zora Neale Hurston Create A Social Norm

Words: 486
Pages: 2

Pauline Hopkins, in Contending Forces, writes that “...our surroundings influence our lives and characters as much as fate…” and Janie Mae Crawford is no exception. Zora Neale Hurston, the authoress of Their Eyes Were Watching GOD, unerringly chooses the Deep South in the early 1900s to be the setting of her second book; this area and time period’s attitude toward women is very much like the outdated corset, but Janie challenges the social norm through her actions. Hurston deliberately uses her setting to create a window into the culture of the Deep South at the time through Janie’s refusal to fully surrender. The Deep South of the early 1900s is a land full of superstition and tradition; the people hold onto their ways as if they are shackled to them. They are not wearing physical shackles, but the chains of dependence sow themselves deep into the hearts of the ‘ruling’ class. These invisible chains are the Jim Crow Laws, which are the product of generations of prejudice. One particular part of the Laws that makes an appearance in the latter part of the story is that a colored person cannot serve on a jury, even if a trial involves another colored person. It is this unjust practice that, ironically, saves Janie. The sympathetic white jury rules …show more content…
Society portrays women as weak and delicate at the time, which is also how Joey views Janie. He believes her to be “[a] pretty doll baby..” and as nearly all dolls of quality were made of porcelain in the early 1900s, Joey treats her as a collectible item; he places her up on a social pedestal so that none can ever hope to touch her (29). Janie overcomes his, and society’s, opinion of her when she finally stands up to him. Hurston tries to convey through Janie’s open defiance against her husband’s will and attitude that it is never too late to grow stronger and show that strength comes from within, not from marital