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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God


by Zora Neale Hurston

Mrs. Turner

Character Analysis

A middle-aged woman of mixed (black and white) ethnicity, she imposes herself upon Janie because of their similar heritage. Mrs. Turner worships all things white and gives a new spin to the traditional color dichotomy of black representing evil and white represents goodness. She takes this typology to an aesthetic level, associating everything white with beauty and everything black with ugliness. Because she has grown up among the white middle class, she sees the white way of doing things as completely authoritative and correct. In fact, she is so inculcated in their frame of mind that she worships whiteness. Mrs. Turner’s scale of worth for a person hinges fully on how white they appear to be. Thus, she worships Janie almost as a deity. Mrs. Turner actually takes pride and joy in suffering under white rule for she feels she deserves it as punishment for her blackness.

Mrs. Turner can be read as a twisted response to overblown racism. Instead of the usual response of condemning white people for their suppression and condescension towards black people, she somehow buys into the racist scheme.