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Zora Neale Hurston

At the beginning of the novel, Janie has no name when she comes to Eatonville. Hurston (1978) describes Janie as ˘so the beginning of this was a woman÷ (9). Janie is finally named by the townspeople on the porch, itself symbolic of an entry into an enclosed home or community. However, she is incorrectly named as ˘Janie Starks÷, despite the fact that she has married three times (Hurston 1978, 12). The power of naming as a symbolic act is referenced by Hurston (1978), with respect to the actions of the townspeople sitting on their porch: ˘They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment÷ (10).

Janie eventually realizes the negative relationship that occurs between her neighborĂs sense of power and naming. Speaking to Phoeby, she calls them the collective ˘Mouth-Almighty÷ (Hurston 1978, 16). The symbolic power of naming is further reinforced by Phoeby, who tells Janie that ˘so long as they get a name to gnaw on they donĂt care whose it is and what about, Šspecially if they can make it soun


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