“Their Eyes were Watching God” by Zora Hurston – the American Dream

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Updated: Apr 19, 2021
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The American Dream

Throughout life, people have something they want to achieve. Whether it be big or small, they want to achieve it. When a society values the same thing or concept, it becomes that society’s goal or “Dream”. A society’s dream can be achieved in many ways. It may be good or bad, but as the society changes the dream changes with it. The impact of other countries, technology, business, beliefs and the people can radically change the dream. In the book “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Hurston, many conflicts and events happen due to the influence of the american dream on a person. The story follows Janie, a white raised mixed girl who goes through life trying to figure out her destiny. She states, “Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.” Hurston(1.1-2) This shows how Janie will protect her dream even if it means having to give it up for another, which she does many times throughout her journey. This is shown through her three husbands. I will prove you how the American dream can impact people and society with the story “Their Eyes Were Watching God”.

In “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, Joe Starks, Janie’s second husband becomes more obnoxious and prideful as he tries to achieve his dream. It is shown many times that Joe wants to be a “Big Voice”, which means to be in charge. He begins to chase his dream by raising a village into a town and making the town self sufficient. Joe’s ambition and pride causes him to leave nothing to fate, which causes him to take matters into his own hands. It states,””I god, Ah don’t see how come yuh can’t [run the store]. ‘Tain’t nothin’ atall tuh hinder yuh if yuh got uh thimble full uh sense. You got tuh. Ah got too much else on mah hands as Mayor. Dis town needs some light right now.”” Hurston(5.111) This shows how Joe’s ambition and drive to achieve his dream causes him to ignore Janie’s needs. Joe’s one track mind leads him to hitting Janie and treating the townsfolk like peasants. This can be seen as the American dream impacting Joe and his friends in a negative way. It states, “American Dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.” This enforces that you must sacrifice something, in order to achieve your goal or dream. Joe sacrificed his friends, health, kind nature and wife to chase his dream. Which lead to him being obnoxious and disrespectful to everyone who cared for him.

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The American dream changes generation to generation and one generation’s ideal dream can be undesirable to another generation. In the beginning of the story Janie’s dream is to fall in love and live a romantic life. Janie’s nanny’s ideal life or dream is to be secure and live stable. She doesn’t value love as much as materialistic things. This shows that nanny’s generation valued what you have, than what you are. It states, “”You come head wid yo’ mouf full uh foolishness on uh busy day. Heah you got uh prop tuh lean on all yo’ bawn days, and big protection, and everybody got tuh tip dey hat tuh you and call you Mis’ Killicks, and you come worryin’ me ‘bout love.”” Hurston(3.17-19) Nanny was a slave most of her life so to her just having land and stable living was enough. This can be portrayed as nanny’s generational dream, differing from Janie’s generation. This also show how in nanny’s time and emotion wasn’t considered in a relationship. It was only self stability. It states, “The American Dream has long been associated with the gratification and security of a comfortable home within the picturesque borders of a white-picket fence,” writes Paul Golden of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE).” This was the average white persons goal of the dream. African Americans would be happy to be secure in a age of discrimination. Nanny has been through slavery with bad marriages. She wants Janie to live the dream she couldn’t. Nanny marries Janie to Logan despite Janie not loving him. To nanny, Janie has the ideal dream from her generation. The American dream impacts nanny with materialism and that possessions outweighs love and emotions in her mind.

While Janie’s experiences forced love, imprisonment and heartbreak, she keeps moving and keeps her head high through the struggles. Throughout the story, Janie is shown living moment to moment and not thinking much of the past or future. Janie’s dream is that a of a fairy tale princess wanting a prince to give her a happily ever after. Janie goes through two failed marriages before she find her prince tea cake, a young man who makes her happy. Janie enjoys every moment with tea cake, until he dies due to rabies. Instead of falling into sadness, she picks herself up and focuses on keeping his memory alive. It states, “Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.” Hurston(20.12) This shows that despite her not achieving her dream, she is inspired by the dream to keep the memories of loved ones. Janie went from a person fixated on a happy ending, to a person who accepts that it didn’t happen and cherishes the memories she made. This is the American dream impacting Janie’s sense of peace through hard struggles. The purpose of the American dream is to reach your goal, despite the hardships and become content with your place. The new talks about how the american dream has waxed and waned over the years.With the majority rejecting it being about materialism and accepting it be happiness.Amadeo(Oct,29 2018) This explains why over the years the dream become more about oneself than business affairs. Jaine can relate to this because her dream was getting love, which she got despite the death of her husband. She was pushed by the dream to accomplish her goal, which lead her to a place of well being.

In the story many people change due to society,ambition and emotions. These changes are a reflection of the real world and how these things can change ones goal.This shows how the american dream can change people and impact societies invision of the american standard.These ambitions will change and grow as people choose what they will achieve. People will have different goals short term or long,but their end goal leaves them in a place of accomplishment.”

“Their Eyes were Watching God” by Zora Hurston – the American Dream essay

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“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Hurston - The American Dream. (2021, Apr 19). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/their-eyes-were-watching-god-by-zora-hurston-the-american-dream/