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Their Eyes Were Watching God Allusion
Transcript of Their Eyes Were Watching God Allusion
By: Jing Chen
"Most of dese zigaboos is so het up over yo' business till they liable to hurry theyself to Judgement to find out about you...."
This refers to the Judgement Day when God will judge the living and the dead.
The speaker is criticizing the gossipy sharecroppers who "passed nations through their mouths" after being "tongueless, earless, eyeless" all day long
These talkers who "sat in judgment" is assuming a God-like roll, waiting to hear and judge the wrongdoing of the main character--Janie.
It gives an introduction to the fickle and amusing crowd who will later moves the plot, adds humor to the story, and presents the customs and the habits of the south in the early 1900's.
"Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree....It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery....What? How? Why?"
This refers to the story of the Garden of Eden, where the first man and woman--Adam and Eve--lived. Before they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which was forbidden by God, they walked around the Garden of Eden naked due to their innocence.
Janie's wonder of the mystery in the pear tree is similar to Adam and Eve's curiosity towards the tree of knowledge. Here, Janie is still an innocent girl.
This soon contrasts her experience, represents by one of my favorite quote, "Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman."
The Angel woth the Sword
"Ah ain' t gittin' ole, honey. Ah'm done ole. One mornin' soon, now, de angel wid de sword is goin' tuh stop by here.
Janie's grandma is talking about Archangel Michael. He leads God's armies against Satan's forces and defeats Satan.
The allusion to a biblical reference in a dialog shows an identity of African Americans in that time period. As discriminated as the African American were, they meet the "requirement" to be American. Elements in Christianity appears often to give the reader an insight to their tradition and belief.
Sherman Taking Atlanta
"Dat mornin' on de big plantation close to Savannah, a rider come in a gallop tellin' 'bout Sherman takin' Atlanta. Marse Robert's son had done been kilt at Chickamauga. So he...went off ...to drive de Yankees back into Tennessee."
Old Nanny is recalling
the Battle of Atlanta,
a battle of the Atlanta Campaign to seize the important rail and supply center of Atlanta, fought during the American Civil War on July 22, 1864, just southeast of Atlanta, Georgia. Union forces commanded by
William T. Sherman
defeated Confederate forces defending the city under John B. Hood. Union Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson was killed during the battle. The city did not fall until September 2, 1864. After taking the city, Sherman's troops headed south-southeastward toward Milledgeville, the state capital, and on to Savannah with the March to the Sea.
This novel is backed by historical references from the Civil War to two generations later.
"Us talks about de white man keepin' us down! Shucks! He don't have tuh. Us keeps our own selves down."
"Now who said Ah didn't want de man tuh git us uh post office? He kin be de king uh Jerusalem fuh all Ah keer."
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem as their capital. According to the New Testament, Jerusalem was the city to which Jesus was brought as a child. There is also an account of Jesus' preaching, his Last Supper all the way to his resurrection, ascension and prophecy to return in Jerusalem.
The speaker, Hicks, is speaking sarcastically, he really means that Joe cannot make any progress. Hick is distrusting and jealous at Joe, an outsider of Eatonville, for having the courage to do something that, in his knowledge, colored people never did and could never do.
Hicks uses Jerusalem because the familiarity and its high status in his religion.
Isaac and Rebecca at the well
"You can't welcome uh man and his wife 'thout you make comparison about Isaac and Rebecca at de well, else it don't show de love between 'em if you don't
Isaac's servant is sent to find him a wife. The servant devised a test: he stood at the central well and pray to God "let the maiden who offers his team water to be Isaac's wife." Rebecca immediately came out and offer enough water even for the camels, proving her kind and generous nature and her suitability for the family (water was more valuable than today, and camels are known for draining water). When Rebecca met Isaac, She was impressed by his spirituality. They fell in love with each other and lived happily ever after. (Genesis 24:13-15)
Their union is destined by God. The speaker is bootlicking Jody and Janie on how well they match each other and they will have an ever-lasting love. This happened after Jody open the first and only store in the town, showing a sign of leadership to the others who had little knowledge on managing independently and a sign of hope that they could have a different life.
Let it shine
"De Sun-maker brings it up in de mornin', and de Sun-maker sends it tuh bed at night. Us poor weak humans can't do nothin'....All we can do...is tuh make some light ourselves....And when Ah touch de match tuh dat lampwick let de light penetrate inside of yuh, and let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
Genesis 1:3, The Beginning--And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Joe, the new and first mayor, is equaling himself with God. He exaggerates the changes he brings to the town into some sort of miracles in order to build a higher reputation, so he could better swindles the humble townsman.
"Abraham Lincoln, he had de whole United States tuh rule so he freed de Negroes. You got uh town so you freed uh mule. You have tuh have power tuh free things and dat makes you lak uh king uh something."
Janie makes an analogy of Jody to someone that she highly admires (while Jody seems to bought a woman's heart with five dollars). Lincoln is surely praised by most, if not all, African Americans (even though the Civil War was not fought to free the slaves and the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free the slaves); but these blacks, remote distantly from common sense, not seem to understand Democracy and remain the idea: highest leader = king. Another reason that slavery is one of the biggest irony about Uncle Sam.
"I god amighty! A woman stay round uh store till she get old as Methusalem and still can't cut a little thing like a plug of tobacco! Don't stand dere rollin' yo' pop eyes at me wid yo' rump hangin' nearly to yo' knees!"
Methusalem is the man in the Hebrew Bible reported to have lived the longest. He died at the age of 969. The phrase "old as Methuselah," is commonly used to refer to anything of great age.
As the time pass, Jody's fat that used to represent prosperity now sag from his belly, his neck, his back. He often insults Janie "as if he didn't want her to stay young while he grew old (Janie is about ten years younger)." His dignity, or rather his arrogance, does not allow him to admit that his is not as mighty and admirable as before, so he creates pathetic make-believes. Janie understands his inferiority complex, and she is somehow used to the insult, so she learns to keep silence. Until this time when Jody insults her in front of the town, "It was like somebody snatched off part of a woman's clothes while...the streets were crowded." Then there not-so-close relationship plummeted.
Saul, his daughter, and David (pg.79)
"'Talkin' 'bout me lokin' old! When you pull down yo' britches, you look lak de change uh life.'"
"Janie had robbed him of his illusion of irresistible maleness that all men cherish...The thing that Saul's daughter had done to David."
Saul is the king of Israel and David is his highly successful soldier. Saul used to appreciate David but grew increasingly jealous when the people credited David more than him. Saul promised to marry his daughter Michal to David in exchange for the defeat of Philistines. In reality, Saul awaits the news of the "sacrifice of David." But God sides with David. He did not die in the hands of Philistines, and Michal married him. Now Saul is even more scared of David. Saul plots to kill David in his own hand, but Michal, in love with David, betrayed her father and helped him escape. (1 Samuel 18-19)
Saul threatening David
After years of silence, Janie finally stands up for herself. Jody, who is only admired and now is insulted in front of the townspeople, feels betrayed by Janie, like Michal had betrayed her father. Joe strikes Janie as hard as possibly, to show that he still holds power over Janie and to saving face. It is apparent that Joe is losing control over his own life, with his declining health and the disobedience of his wife. Until his death, which is not long after the incident, he had not understand why he "betrayed" by his wife, whom he believed had brought from hell to heaven, and he never forgave Janie.
The characters of this book are Southern African Americans in the early 1900's. Religion was a huge part of there life and spiritual support while they continue to face oppression; the Bible Might be the only book that they have access to.
Unless specifically mentioned,an allusion is biblical allusion.
By: Zora Neale Hurston