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Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

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In Their Eyes Were Watching God, how does Hurston describe family in chapters 1-10?

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Family is referred to in the first ten chapters of this book through Janie's grandmother's decision to marry her off quickly to Logan Killicks. Janie's grandmother states the fact that Janie has no parents, and she only has her to look after her. Family is described as being a form of protection, and the family that she will form when she marries Logan is something that will give Janie's grandmother peace of mind as she is aging and nearing her end. Note what she says to Janie about family in the following quote:

You ain't got no papa, you might jus' as well say no mama, for de good she do yuh. You ain't got nobody but me. And mah head is ole and tilted towards the grave. Neither can you stand alone by yo'self. 

Because of Janie's rather exposed position without other family to look after her, Janie's grandmother wants to see Janie safely married before she dies and is unable to do anything for Janie. Family is therefore all about protection in the first ten chapters of this book, and because of Janie's lack of a family, she is forced to marry a man she has no feelings for and does not want to be with. Janie has been brought up by her grandmother alone, and her grandmother uses this to force Janie to accept this marriage, so that she can die happy in the knowledge that there is somebody out there who is caring for her granddaughter. 

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