Date

5-1-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

English

First Adviser

Mary Foltz

Abstract

This paper explores the queer impulses in Zora Neale Hurston’s There Eyes Were Watching God. Utilizing the theories of straight time and queerness set out by Jose Muñoz in Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, I argue that Janie’s well known experience beneath the pear tree ruptures the facade of heteronormativity through a vision of communal and egalitarian relations. In order to make this claim, I first establish the expectations that straight time, the linear conception of time that puts all hopes for the future upon the next generation, places on Janie. I then demonstrate the way that straight time functions in each of Janie’s major relationships, beginning with Nanny, proceeding through her three marriages, and ending with Pheoby. Simultaneously, I demonstrate that Janie’s desires are sustained in each of her three marriages, particularly through her continued communion with nature in spite of the pull of straight time. Finally, I posit that the intimacy between Janie and Pheoby continues a depiction of queer desires that expand beyond the limits of one man and one woman and leaves behind the illusion that heteronormativity that celebrates a dominant male partner and a submissive female partner is the way to compassionate reciprocity and the feeling of the pear tree.

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