Critical Thinking

Angelou and her generation gone before has found,

Angelou even regards sisterhoods as a more widespread and ubiquitous aspect of black society. Female members of the community constantly address one another as sister. Customers speak of Momma as “Sister Henderson”. Momma refers to Miss Bertha Flowers as “Sister Flowers” and even Momma tells Marguerite “Sister, that’s right pretty.” and other figures such as “Sister Monroe” or “Sister Williams.” Angelou’s omnipresent utilization of African American vernacular  is a way of showing the bonds between a minority within another pre existing minority group. This is mainly attributed to a loss of identity during slave times therefore slaves referred to each other as any form of siblings due to search for their families and having their lineage stripped from them. Angelou uses this a mechanism to represent a seemingly close community as more burdened than blessed. The most vital sisterhood is perhaps the one that lies between Marguerite and Miss Bertha Flowers. As a paragon Miss Flowers rebuilds Marguerite from a post trauma state following her assault. Miss Flowers’ enables Marguerite to challenge the many norms she has been brought up with and that she should be intolerant of  “ignorance but understanding of illiteracy”, this becomes the stepping stone to Marguerite opposing the many efforts made upon her int he journey to self disparagement. Earlier in her life, Maguerite witnesses the torment and degradation inflicted on Momma by the ‘powhitetrash’ children, thereafter she makes the connection that Momma’s seemingly docile and submissive reaction to this is due to the “paths of life that she and her generation gone before has found, and found to the safe ones”. Momma’s learnings from slave times do not come off as appropriate or fitting for such a woman of dignity, however Marguerite’s perception of this concept shifts heavily under the guidance of Miss Flowers.  Hurston’s creation of duality in the realities of Miss Flowers and Momma and how they play a role in the formation of Marguerites personhood  help her embrace Marguerite embrace her “black ugly dream” and come to terms with her identity as a black female. Literary critic and Professor of Humanities at Yale University Harold Bloom explains Angelou’s insight in to the convolution of black female strife in stating Angelou’s womanist theories, as they are inscribed in autobiography, thus bring into rend the ideologies that serve to mythologize women’s experiences as mothers and wives, as well as the hierarchical divisions that generate conflict and struggle within families. In essence, much more than bringing sexuality, childbearing, and child raring practices into the domain of politics, Angelou’s autobiographical works attempt to reveal the multiple and dynamic interconnections between households—home and family—and the larger political economy. (Bloom, 2014, p.68). Hurston, like Angelou, allows her persona Janie to integrate her psyche with the philosophies of the female authority figures in her milieu. The antithetical state Leafy, Janie’s mother and Nanny Crawford, Janie grandmother augmented Janie’s struggle in her early years leading to the disorientation in her adulthood. Because of Leafy, Janie’s path of life has been prescribed for her in a negative manner, Hurston bases the text on Janie’s desperate need to break from these confines regardless of them being imposed on her by the same people who’s philosophies she gives credences to. Trudy Bush’s declaration that Janie’s “self-discovery and self-definition consist of learning to recognize and trust her inner voice, while rejecting the formulations others try to impose upon her” (Bush, 1988, p.1024) becomes increasingly relevant to the storyline as Janie’s unbalanced relationships deteriorate from the resistance of conformity to social norms. It is in Janie’s prime of woman we see the concept of marriage being imposed upon her in her grandmother’s statement “Ah wants to see you married right away”. Hurston’s depiction of the guidance Janie receives under Nanny becomes representative of the majority of the black community’s sentiments regarding the role of the black woman. “Look at yo’ ole grandma!…Ah don’t want to be talkin’ to you lak dis “, Nanny’s prioritization of her artificial outlook on marriage and love over Janie’s expectations and desires becomes a hindrance to her self determination as a black woman. Janie’s primordial rejection of Logan Killicks in “The vision of Logan Killicks was desecrating the pear tree”. The motif that portrayed an incorruptible sense of naturality and liberty became tarnished at the concept of a man, the audience is now aware that marriage to Janie, instead of being an appurtenance to her adulthood becomes an intrusion her perception of happiness. Hurston depicts Janie’s confinement throughout all of her relationships as a catalyst to her downfall as a black woman this is evident in “You ain’t got no particular place. It’s wherever Ah need yuh. Git uh move on yuh, and dat quick.” reinforcing Hurstons proclamation that the black women is “de mule uh de world” She also comments on Janie’s condition in her relationship with Joe Starks when Janie questions  “Why must Joe be so mad with her for making him look small when he did it to her all the time? Had been doing it for years.” In this sense Hurston comments on the relentless diligence and loyalty Janie has been putting into not only her relationship with her husbands but her society despite only being rewarded with alienation and bigotry from her own people. Hurston portrays the black patriarchal community to the audience as unknowing to the importance of societal and political inclusion and equality of black woman. A feminist like Hurston casts a negative light on both racism and sexism within the oppressed black community but implicitly develops the idea of gender based oppression (stemming from slavery) hindering the black communities progressivism as “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” (Lorde, 1984)

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