Their Eyes Were Watching God

“When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013.

Surprising that angels who are suppose to be innocent would be jealous of man. Also thinking that perhaps the mud has something to do with different races.

Their Eyes Were Watching God.

“All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped.”

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006).

This is something that I have always questioned. Why does God give us, some more than others, such severe hardships, yet we worship them. At that point, are we worshiping them for ourselves or out of fear?

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tire. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p.1

As I Lay Dying

When we are going out, Whitfield comes.  He is wet and muddy to the waist, coming in.  “The Lord comfort this house,” he says.  “I was late because the bridge was gone.  I went down to the old ford and swum my horse over, the Lord protected me  His grace be upon this house.”

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (New York: Vintage International, 1985), 88.

Throughout the novel characters show their reliance on God and their unique perspective regarding souls and spiritual phenomenon.  Vardaman breaks down because he believes his mothers soul was transferred into a fish.  God is a huge part of their lives and defines their lives, without the explanation that God can make it rain and can also make it stop they would have no explanation for why life is the way it is.  The way they use spirituality to explain what is going on around them and happening in their lives is interesting to read.

Cane

“And all the while the Gardens were purple like a bed of roses would be at dusk. I came back to tell you, brother, that white faces are petals of roses. That dark faces are petals of dusk. That I am going out and gather petals. That I am going out and know her whom I brought here with me to these Gardens which are purple like a bed of roses would be at dusk.”

Toomer, Jean. “Bona and Paul.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 107. Print.

In this excerpt, the Gardens stand out to me as a religious aspect. I also really like the repetition and emphasis on “the Gardens were purple like a bed of roses would be at dusk.”

Cane

“Whats beauty anyway but ugliness if it hurts you? God, he doesnt exist, but nevertheless He is ugly. Hence, what comes from Him is ugly. Lynchers and business men, and that cockroach Hanby, especially.”

Kabnis really contradicts himself in these few lines. In the beginning of this passage he is on his knees calling for God to take away the beauty in the world and only leave him with the ugly. Then, in these few sentences he resents God and now believes that God does not exist. He also puts lynchers and business men on the same ‘ugly’ level which I find a little disturbing because clearly lynchers are worse. Readers can truly see how distraught Kabnis is at this point in the section.

Toomer, Jean. “Kabnis.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 114. Print.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Rejecting Piety.

“Some instinct, waking at these memories, stronger than education or piety, quickened within him at every near approach to that life, an instinct subtle and hostile, and armed him against acquiescence. The chill and order of the life repelled him. He saw himself rising in the cold of the morning and filing down with the others to early mass and trying vainly to struggle with his prayers against the fainting sickness of his stomach. He saw himself sitting at dinner with the community of a college. What, then, had become of that deep-rooted shyness of his which had made him loth to eat or drink under a strange roof? What had come of the pride of his spirit which had always made him conceive himself as a being apart in every order?” (135)

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.

Despite Stephen’s knowledge about hell, both terrifying and detailed, he is repulsed by the idea of joining the holy order. Something must give: he either must forfeit his pursuit of guaranteed salvation, or he must accept the risk of eternal punishment. In this case, given he (at this point) steadfastly believes in God, the rational option is a pursuit of priesthood. However, an “instinct” overrides the prudential option.

Stephen “sees” himself in the future. Will Stephen choose to limit the size of his choice-set as it relates to other paths? Is any decision final given he seems to oscillate between full devotion and convenience? 

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“It was very big to think about everything and everywhere. Only God could do that. He could think only of God. God was God’s name just as his name was Stephen. Dieu was the French for God and that was God’s name too; and when anyone prayed to God and said Dieu then God knew at once that it was a French person that was praying. But though there were different names for God in all the different languages in the world and God understood what all the people who prayed said in their different languages still God remained always the same God and God’s real name was God” (Joyce 10).

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Bantam Books, 1992. Print.

What is the nature of this linguistic breakdown of the word “God”? Does it take away from God’s power? This is an early indication of Dedalus’ critical view of religion.