Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Viktor Osinubi, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Georgene Bess Montgomery, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Susan Wright, Ph.D.


Language and voice are studied in fiction to understand how characters’ masculinity and femininity are depicted. This study examines the meaning of men’s and women’s voices in Their Eyes Were Watching God and Charles Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars. Both authors portray their characters with realistic emotions that reflect American and African-American culture. Janie struggles to discover her own voice and womanhood after two unsuccessful marriages; however, in her third marriage, Janie begins to use her voice and establish herself as a woman. Similarly, Rena neglects her black identity and finds difficulty in adjusting to white society. However, she uses her voice to illustrate her strength and accepts her blackness. This study analyzes the significance of idiolects and physiological meanings that help depict men’s and women’s voices in the novels. The research demonstrates the importance of men’s and women’s voices and how they contribute to characters’ maturation.