6. Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937): Bildung and the Rhetoric and Politics of Voice

  1. James Phelan

Published Online: 1 APR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch6

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

How to Cite

Phelan, J. (2013) Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937): Bildung and the Rhetoric and Politics of Voice, in Reading the American Novel 1920-2010, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch6

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2013
  2. Published Print: 10 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780631230670

Online ISBN: 9781118512876

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Keywords:

  • African American woman;
  • novel;
  • politics;
  • rhetorical reading;
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God;
  • Zora Neale Hurston

Summary

With Their Eyes Were Watching God, this chapter turns to a novel that puts the experiences of African Americans, and, more specifically, an African American woman, front and center. The chapter demonstrates how rhetorical reading can address the politics of technique. More specifically, it argues that Zora Neale Hurston's larger purposes justify her shift to the narrator's voice, even as her initiation signals that something valuable is lost in that shift. In addition, it argues that the progression calls for her to represent Janie's actual speech at the trial, but that Hurston's decision not to render the speech results in a passage of deficient narration that is a small flaw in her generally powerful design.