Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is considered a masterpiece of African-American literature and is praised for its depiction of self-fulfillment and black womanhood. It explores themes of race, gender, identity, and love, and presents a complex portrayal of the experiences of black women in the early 20th century. Rather than promoting traditional gender roles and white male dominance, the novel challenges and subverts these norms and differences as a basis for discrimination or prejudice. Janie Crawford, the main protagonist of the novel, defies conventional gender roles and expectations for women, in particular black women. Her rejection of conformity to conventions and her dedication to the quest for happiness make her a pioneering character in literature.
This study aims to draw a triangle between nature, black womanhood and self-realization in the work of Hurston within black feminist ecological thought. Black women, historically, have been expected to shoulder the burdens of racism and sexism while often being marginalized or ignored by both the black and white communities. This lifestyle profoundly shapes individuals’ outlooks and their strategies for comprehending and managing life. Hurston skillfully employs natural imagery, including references to the mule, pear tree, blossoming, and horizon, to convey a dual message. On one hand, these images poignantly illustrate the dehumanizing and oppressive hardships endured by black women. On the other hand, they symbolize the hopes and aspirations essential for the pursuit of love and a fulfilling life with the help of natural healing.