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Hierarchies, judgment, and god in their eyes were watching God

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  1. Introduction
  2. The main character
  3. Janie's struggle
  4. The social order and the frivolous makings
  5. Victorian ideals within marriage
  6. The demigods
  7. The occurrence of numerous idolized figures
  8. The impending doom
  9. Conclusion

In Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, the world which she portrays is one revolving around hierarchal order. Hurston illustrates the city of Eatonville as a self-contained black community; however, the exclusion of white characters from the novel does not elicit a lack of social bigotry, instead it brings forth a social order that resides within a bigger one. Hurston shows that, like many socially implemented doctrines, a social order can penetrate the heart of society, flowing through all veins and branches until it reaches every last vessel within the system; Eatonville, or any other small town, cannot escape the influence.

[...] Their Eyes Were Watching God is full of demigods who pass judgment upon others and ostracize those who fail to abide by the laws of the social order. The porch watchers relish in their ability to cast a presumptuous gaze. When Janie first starts seeing Tea Cake the town talks in condescension of their courting, criticizing Janie of the fact that Starks hadn't been dead but nine months and here she goes sashaying off to picnic in pink linen.? (110). [...]

[...] Jodie erects an altar for himself and the rest of the town follows in his praise; Jodie is god in Eatonville. Janie too becomes a figure for worship as she must retain Jodie's status by her submission to him. Mrs. Turner, who Janie meets when she and Tea Cake travel to the muck, epitomizes this notion of false idolatry in her skewed perception of white supremacy: ?Once having set up her idols and built altars to them it was inevitable that she would worship there. [...]

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