Language Is Powerful

Image of the word Inspire


Zora Neale Hurston shows the power that words can have throughout all of her works. Gary Cluba’s The Worm against the Word: The Hermeneutical Challenge in Hurston’s Jonah’s Gourd Vine explains some of these instances. By far the most interesting example I read was about the influence that Amy Crittenden’s, John’s mother, word has on John. His whole journey and therefore this novel was heavily influenced by her words. It was her language that swayed the way that John both acted towards and spoke to Ned. It was her words that encouraged John to cross the creek and shut down Ned every time his internalized racism showed. Although I believe that her words where strong it could be argued that it was the power that she had as a mother that caused it all to happen.

Lucy on the other hand represented a quiet authority. John does well in school to impress Lucy because she is the know all in school. They used that knowledge to further woo each other through love letters. Through his journey of winning Lucy over he also furthers himself in the work place. Later in life it is Lucy’s words that save John from destroying his life with his own reckless actions. Then even after her death John calls upon her wishing that she could still provide gentle guidance.

2 thoughts on “Language Is Powerful

  1. Inethia, I really liked how you emphasised the importance of John’s mother. Other students have though of John as a “Christ figure”, and I’m curious as to whether or not you can interpret some symbolism into John’s mother’s role with regards to his “Christ-like” aspects.

  2. I think your focus on John’s mother and the importance of her language, as well as the effects it had on John and Ned, is a very good observation of an influential character. I wonder if this has more to do with motherhood, and maternal guidance. These themes are prominent throughout the book so it would be interesting to analyze this.

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