Literature is a reflection of the community from which it comes. Understanding the role of women in the African-American community starts by examining the roles of women in African-American literature. The portrayal of women in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) and James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain (1952) provides tremendous insight into the role of African-American women.
Their Eyes Were Watching God examines the relationship between Janie and her grandmother, who plays the role of mother in Janie’s life. It also looks at the different relationships that Janie had with her three husbands. Janie’s grandmother was one of the most important influences in her life, raising her since from an infant and passing on her dreams to Janie. Janie’s mother ran away from home soon after Janie was born. With her father also gone, the task of raising Janie fell to her grandmother, Nanny. Nanny tells Janie “Fact uh de matter, Ah loves yuh a whole heap more’n Ah do yo’ mama, de one Ah did birth” (Hurston 31). Nanny’s dream is for Janie to attain a position of security in society, “high ground” as she puts it (32). As the person who raised her, Nanny feels that it is both her right and obligation to impose her dreams and her ideas of what is important in life on Janie. The strong relationship between mother and child is important in the African-American community, and the conflict between Janie’s idyllic view of marriage and Nanny’s wish for her to marry for stability and position is a good illustration of just how deep the respect and trust runs. Janie has a very romantic notion of what marriage should be. “She saw a dust-bearing…
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… the children.
Works Cited and Consulted
Baldwin, James. Go Tell it on the Mountain (1952). New York: Bantam-Dell, 1952.
Bourn, Byron D. “Women’s Roles in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and
James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain”
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). : Urbana, Ill.: U of Illinois P, 1937.
Kubitschek, Missy Dehn. ” ‘Tuh de Horizon and Back’: The Female Quest in Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Pondrom, Cyrena N. “The Role of Myth in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.” American Literature 58.2 (May 1986): 181-202.
Williams, Shirley Anne. Forward. Their Eyes Were Watching God. By Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Bantam-Dell, 1937. xv.
The Surreal World of William Gibson’s Neuromancer
The Surreal World of Neuromancer
Neuromancer, written by William Gibson, opens with the reference to a blank television screen. This symbol of an altered, incomplete world is made reference to throughout the novel. This altered world leads to a dystopia with technologically altered human beings sleeping in coffins, and dependent on drugs. Because of this harsh life, the people are left in a harsh world where they must learn to form friendships with others who can get them the supplies that they need. Though many things evolve throughout the novel to better the lives of the characters, the novel ends with the same reference to the blank television screen. It returns to the surreal, unidentifiable existence of what life is for these people.
Many of the people in this futuristic world have a type of AI, or Artificial Intelligence. The first introduction to this is the bartender. It is written that the “antique arm whined as he reached for another mug”(4). Though he has an artificial arm that is only about five years old, it is described as being an antique using the word whine to give it the characteristics of being old. This shows has fast technology improves and changes in their society. Molly is another prevalent character in the novel who has advanced eyes allowing her to see thing magnified and with great clarity. One character in particular, Wintermute, has an advanced mind. Though a computer, he can, by what seems to be telepathy, make people think and do things. These advances in their physical and mental characteristic causes the characters to question who they are. This affects their mental state.
The term coffin is used to describe the living quarters of the characters. As shown through Cases travels, there seems to be two different types of coffins; one being like a small cheap hotel and the other made up of a wall of small units to sleep in appearing to look like a morgue. The first could show how Case lives a confined life, closed in the tight confinement of the dystopia. In the second, the reference to death mirrors the enslaved lives of the people. They live a captive life restricted by a higher power who runs their world; which is Gibson’s view of the futuristic Earth. This restriction of their lives adds to the dystopia.
Drugs play an important role in the lives of Molly and Case adding another dimension to their complex life styles.