What are some good passages that show the change of the narrator's views throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Arguably, the narrator does not actually change her views throughout this text, as rather her views as expressed at the beginning of the book about gender and the different roles that men and women occupy are supported by the rest of the novel and the action that transpires. There is one area in the novel that does seem to slightly contradict what the narrator establishes about some of the fundamental differences between men and women in the opening chapter. This is something that can be seen when the narrator describes the character of Mrs. Turner. Note what the narrator says about her:

It was inevitable that she should accept any inconsistency and cruelty from her deity as all good worshippers do from theirs. All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood.

Mrs. Turner's characteristic of worshipping qualities that she herself will never possess shows that she belongs with the men whose ships "sail forever on the horizon." This does indicate at least a partial change of view, as the narrator concedes that the indivisible gender divisions that she outlines in the opening chapter are perhaps not quite as discrete and separate as she establishes. However, it is important to note that this quote also contains implied criticism of Mrs. Turner, who spends her time worshipping "half gods" rather than the "real gods" who Janie worships. Mrs. Turner worships these false gods because she enjoys the feeling of superiority they give her over others and, in a masochistic vein, she enjoys the punishment these false gods give her. However, as a whole, this quote could be interpreted as a modifcation of the narrator's view as it is presented to the reader in the opening chapter.


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