In Their Eyes Were Watching God, how do the novel's first two paragraphs point towards differences in the language used by men and women?

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The famous first two paragraphs of this novel immediately establish the novel's perspective on gender difference and its importance to the story as a whole. In particular, what is notable about this opening is the way that it immediately draws reference to the differences between men and women rather than their equality. These paragraphs introduce the theme of men and women being mutually inter-dependent, as both need things from each other, and of course is developed in Janie's quest as she looks for a man who can complement her and to whom she can offer things as well.

If we look at the second paragraph, we can see that it introduces a kind of general principle that foreshadows so much of the action in the novel. Men apparently are never able to attain their dreams, but women have the ability to pursue their dreams. Janie's unstinting and defiant quest in search of her dreams shows this to be self-evident, in spite of the way in which this brings her so much suffering. Regardless, she remains defiant in her course.

A key theme of this novel is finding a voice, and we can relate this process to the gender differences introduced in these first two paragraphs by focusing on the process by which women gain their voice, as demonstrated by Janie's example. Janie's quest in many ways is to find her voice, and this is her dream, which makes her "act and do things accordingly," in contrast to the men of the play, whose dreams remain unfilfilled and unachieved.


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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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