Symbolism In Tewwg

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Symbolism is often a prevalent theme in most works of literature. The use of symbols provides a deeper meaning to the plot by using an object to represent something other than what it really is. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston uses Janie Crawford’s hair and clothing to embody who she is as a person throughout the book. Janie’s hair is a significant symbol for it represents her power and freedom. At the beginning of the novel, Janie is strong and rebellious. “What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal?” (Hurston 2). According to her town, it is inappropriate for a woman of Janie’s age to wear her hair down. Janie goes against the norm and does not tie her hair up. This act shows Janie’s strength and individuality. However, while Janie was married to Joe Starks, she was not as powerful; in fact, she was tied down. Joe showed his dominance over Janie by forcing her to wear a head rag while working at his store. “What make her keep her head tied up lak some ole ‘oman around de store? Nobody couldn’t git me tuh rie no rag on mah head if Ah had hair lak dat” (hurston 47). Because Janie’s hair is long, straight, and beautiful, many men lusted after it and Joe refused to allow this. He made her bind it so men could not see it, but his jealousy ultimately caused him to lose Janie completely. The head rags she was required to wear constrained her femininity and identity. Janie was forced into hiding her real self, being what her husband waned her to be. Because of this, Janie felt suffocated, but when Joe passed away, she could finally breathe again. “ …she burnt up every one of her head rags and went about the house the next morning with her hair in one thick braid swinging well below her waist” (Husrton 89). Since Joe was no longer around to tell her what to do, Janie let her hair flow freely. Letting
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