Ecological Landmarks in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God: An Ecocritical and Feminist Reading

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Zora Neale Hurston's work reverberates memorably among other 20th century female writers of color. While many scholars have addressed her use of the pear tree image in relation to Janie's lovers, few have explored the ecological implications of this image. Janie's first relationships reflect ecological imbalance, but her relationship with Tea Cake embodies ecological balance through interdependence, mutual submission, and true joy. That is, until Tea Cake violates the ecological balance of the relationship when he abuses Janie out of jealousy, bringing ecological judgement on himself and others. This paper traces these notions of ecological balance/imbalance by examining the ways Janie "maps" these "landmarks" of her past relationships with natural images while she simultaneously participates in the ecological act of rebirth by retelling her story.

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Liberal Studies