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Joy Kogawa's Obasan and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: Finding a Voice for Women of Color

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Title: Joy Kogawa's Obasan and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: Finding a Voice for Women of Color
Authors: Fukuhara, Stacy
Advisor: Hsu, Ruth
Ward, Cynthia
Issue Date: 15 Jan 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: Oppressive systems silence people, and in doing so, take away their histories and identities. I believe that in order to help overcome this debilitating silence, oppressed people need to find their voices. Women of color especially need to find their voices because they are silenced on two levels: racism and sexism. Euroamerican culture silences all people of color through racism.1 Additionally, many men belonging to minorities subordinate and silence women in their attempt to gain equality with white men. These men do so by internalizing the oppressive institutionalized Euroamerican thought that they are victims of.2 I chose to discuss Joy Kagawa's Obasan (1982) and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) because both authors present women of color who confront and battle oppressive Euroamerican patriarchal forces to find their distinct voices. Kagawa presents alternatives to the Euroamerican way of thinking which devalues silence; she portrays how silence can be communicative and how a communicative silence can function as a powerful language within the Japanese Canadian culture. Hurston's work opposes African American men who ignore "women talk" by exploring the strength of "woman talk" within the African American culture. Communicative silence, as well as speech, can give women the voices they need. Hurston and Kagawa view silence differently because of the difference in cultural attitudes about language and voice. On the one hand, Hurston sees silence only as a tool of oppression used by Euroamerican patriarchy against minorities. And for her, African Americans must fight against their oppression by speaking out and playing with words to create their language. Kogawa, on the other hand, realizes that certain forms of silence are debilitating, but also considers the various ways in which silence is a very powerful language. The ways of perceiving self and race may be different, but both methods lead to a similar kind of achievement for the women.
Pages/Duration: ii, 50 pages
Rights: All UHM Honors Projects are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Honors Projects for English

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