Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston Socratic ... SS+2012+socrati · Their Eyes Were Watching…

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  • Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston

    Socratic Seminar Discussion Questions Directions:

    You will be assigned one individual question to prepare for Socratic Seminar on Wednesday. This is an independent assignment, no collaboration on your assigned question (& do not use outside sources unless they are credible, and unless you cite them). See suggestions below.

    Please prepare your discussion points by finding textual evidence to support your insight (final product 1-1.5 pages typed, double-spaced, due Wednesday).

    If youd like to include literary criticism in your answer, go to the Proquest database on Sions library page to look for scholarly articles related to your topic. Make sure you cite correctly.

    1. Alice Walker thinks the most controversial of these abusers is Tea Cake. Walker believes that

    Hurston has Janie kill Tea Cake in part because he beat herbecause this is the only way she can survive (since it is evidently a you or me situation) and because she has come to love and respect herself enough to CHOOSE HERSELF. Discuss the validity of Walkers assertion.

    2. What is the relationship of the voice of the narrator, who is not a character in the story, but in the third-person and partially omniscient, to the voices of the characters, who speak primarily in a Southern, black dialect? Some of the descriptive passages in the novelthe opening passage about ships at a distance for example, use richly (and traditionally) poetic language, which contrasts sharply with the humorous, earthy language of Hurstons character. What is the effect on the reader as the text switches between these different modes? Why might have Hurston chosen to tell the story in this way, when she easily could have chosen to tell it all in standard English or all in dialect?

    3. Many readers see Janies story as the narrative of a woman who comes to find herself, her voice, and ultimately, happiness. Some might even describe the novel as feminist, especially as there seems to be a progression of sorts from her marriage to Logan Killicks, to her one with Tea Cake, which seems much closer to the ideal, one in which she is valued for herself and not the work she can do or the way she looks. But is it really that simple? Are there aspects of Tea Cakes personality, and the way in which he treats Janie that cause problems for a purely positive reading of their marriage? And how might you reconcile the end, where Janie is forced to kill Tea Cake?

    4. Look carefully at chapters 8 and 9 in TEWWG. Compare and contrast the way Kate Chopins The Story of an Hour, and the episodes in TEWWG are similar. Both women experience the same feelings of freedom after their husbands die. Look at the womens attitudes and the reaction to their husbands deaths, as well as the authors purpose in each.

    5. If a novel or short story is structured around one or more conflicts, what do you see as the central conflict(s) in this novel? (Remember that conflicts may be either internal or external.) Based on your interpretation of the central conflict, what is the central theme?

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston

    Socratic Seminar Discussion Questions 6. A characteristic focus of African American literature is the search for voice. How is this theme

    central to TEWWG? In TEWWG, how are the narrators and Janies voices at odds with each other, only to blend together at the end? Read the Foreword by Mary Helen Washington and the Afterward by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and consider these pieces in your response.

    7. Consider the way Zora Neale Hurston establishes Janie's character. Reread the first three pages. How, without yet hearing Janie speak, do we come to understand her character? What facts do we learn about Janie? What inferences can we make about her society?

    8. Think about when Janie is the Mayor's wife in Eatonville. List the behaviors Jody and/or society expects of her when she conforms and feels herself to be "...a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels." (p.118).

    9. By the end of the novel Janie's view and therefore our view of her grandmother's goals for her change. Discuss. What is Janies condition psychologically at the end of the novel? Does she seem satisfied or is she grieving? What has been disappointing and what has been rewarding in her life? What are your reactions to the choices she made?


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