The Tragic Mulatta and Storytelling in Their Eyes Were Watching God

  • Ana Belén Pérez García UNED


The figure of the tragic mulatta placed its origin in antebellum literature and was extensively used in the literature of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Much has been written about this literary character in a time when the problem of miscegenation was at its highest point, and when studies established that races were inherently different, meaning that the black race was inferior to the white one. Many authors have made use of this trope for different purposes, and Zora Neale Hurston was one of them. In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston creates Janie, a mulatta that a priori follows all the characteristics of this type of female character who, however, breaks away from most of them. She overcomes all stereotypes and prejudices, those imposed on her because of her condition of interracial offspring, and is able to take charge of her own life and challenge all these impositions feeling closer to her blackness and celebrating and empowering her female identity. In this vein, storytelling becomes the liberating force that helps her do so. It will become the tool that will enable her to ignore the need of passing as a white person and provide her with the opportunity to connect with her real identity and so feel free and happy, breaking with the tragic destiny of mulatta characters.

Keywords: storytelling, tragic mulatta, blackness, Hurston.



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Author Biography

Ana Belén Pérez García, UNED
English literature and linguistics


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How to Cite
Pérez García, A. B. (2019). The Tragic Mulatta and Storytelling in Their Eyes Were Watching God. The Grove - Working Papers on English Studies, 26(1), 71-88.