The Life Lessons Learned from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

Various works in literature have been written for the sake of giving the readers a “great read” and others teaching life’s lessons. One can agree that when a book can be great, it can lack substance and brains. And on the other hand; a book can be dull and bland but be composed of stories, facts and teachings that one can find detrimental to the evolution of their lives.

Their Eyes were Watching God teaches the readers life lessons through the experiences of the main Character Janie Crawford.

Janie learns how to eventually love, experience life’s blissful and gloomy times, and eventually find peace within herself. In 1937 this book was published and was not given enough attention to because of the beliefs of the people at the time. This novel became one of the most celebrated works for African American literature merely because it gave a voice to women who desperately needed to be heard. Its heroine was a gratified, happy woman who evolved tremendously under the influences by three men.

Janie’s first husband Logan Killucks is described as the beast to Janie’s young sweet beauty. He is old; mean, with little passion and substance. Logan’s strong need to overrule Janie does not counteract Janie’s respect for her husband. As much as he degrades her; Janie does not stop her role as the loving caring wife. She continues to do all work for her husband, even goes as far to chop wood. If Ah kin haul de wood heah and chop it fuh yuh, look lak you oughta be able tuh tote it inside.

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Mah fust wife never bothered me ’bout choppin’ no wood nohow. She’d grab dat ax and sling chips lak uh man. You done been spoilt rotten. (4:31) Logan sees his wife as a spoiled housewife who has no responsibilities yet he constantly has a list of chores she must obey. This causes Janie to finally come to the realization that a marriage should be an equal partnership.

Some women believe that they should be at home raising their children, cooking and cleaning. Then there are women who would never forgo their careers for their children. Janie Crawford fits in the first category. She believes that the man should be at work when the wife is at home doing chores. This is an issue that many women struggle with today because most women want it all; but need to face the hardships that come with it.

In the novel Fight Club, we are introduced to the nameless character with a disconsolate mood and out of control imagination. We might have trouble differentiating his truths from his lies because of the absurdity of his thoughts. It is no surprise like other main characters in famous novels that he suffers from depression; there is no happiness or sense of being content. If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person? (1.33). Yet his sad thoughts that one could visibly picture in their mind could help them learn many things from this quirky yet celebrated book.

Many people today are living their lives not how they want it. They are stuck in the job they despise; not doing what they truly want to do. This quote from Chapter two describes the pain most people experience on a recurring basis. You do the little job you’re trained to do. Pull a lever. Push a button. You don’t understand any of it, and then you just die.

(2.12) This quote says that people are just stuck in their less than perfect life, waiting for death. The lesson to learn is to wake up, do what you want and love because that is truly when you will be happy. With the narrators tone throughout the novel, we can tell he is seeking that himself.

A lot of people suffer with their lives and the lack of passion it possesses. A person needs to evaluate their actions to see if that is the path he or she should follow. You see how everything you can ever accomplish will end up as trash, And I’m lost inside. (2.17) This quote beautifully describes how today society is is over caught with consumerism. Everyone wants the new hot item that just hit the shelves. It is sad that most people cannot deal with the major necessities; they must always compete with someone else. They do not enjoy their possessions; they constantly flaunt them like they are participants in beauty contests. We as consumers have to differentiate between what is truly important and needed versus what is a luxury. One person we could learn from is Mccandless from Into The Wild. He inspiring yet sometimes confusing story can teach people not to take everything so seriously in life and to enjoy what you have. Mccandless from Into The Wild is a recent college student with the world at his feet.

He was considered to have a lot of potential as a child; always excelling at everything he put his mind to. He kept reaching his goal his number one priority and did not let anyone persuade him otherwise. A lot of us can take into account that we constantly dig up reasons on why we shouldn’t do what we truly want to do. But Mccandless did not listen to that; he followed his dreams and made them a reality.

Like in Fight Club, consumerism and minimalism is brought up repeatedly. We are constantly caught up in the frenzy of having the new best gadget, when we do not appreciate what we already have. Mccandless saw it differently and stopped himself before he was caught up in the hoopla. He wanted to live a life with nature, no complications and people to deal with. Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta.

Thou shalt not return, ’cause “the West is the best.” And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild. (5.225) Even though it cost him his life, he reached his goal.

The novel On The Road has several of the lessons that came across in the previous novels. Although it did not mention some deeper messages like in the previous books, it did focus on the fascination of a character, and its eventual downturn. Sal Paradise was devoted to Dean Moriarty no matter any wrongdoing he did. “I was beginning to get the bug like Dean. He was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man, he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him.” (1.4) Sal saw in Dean what he desperately wanted to see in himself. He saw confidence, power, strength and passion. The lesson to learn from this novel is to be you by doing what you believe and love to do. Where Sal had a role model, he quickly overcame his admiration and turned it to focus on himself. In the end he was the last man standing simply because he overcame his obsession and found his passion.

The most important lesson to learn from On the Road is to surround yourself around things that truly make you content, and live everyday like it was your last. The main character Sal Paradise is also battling some demons of his own, as Mccandless was. He is depressed, bored, seeking a more exciting and meaningful life. “The stars bent over the little roof; smoke poked from the stovepipe chimney. I smelled mashed beans and chili. The old man growled…

A California home; I hid in the grapevines, digging it all. I felt like a million dollars; I was adventuring in the crazy American night.” (1.13) His differs from Mccandless in that he is does not have a goal; he is just existing until he finds his peace. Another lesson to take from the novel that was mentioned in Into the Wild specially was to discover yourself through hard life experiences, observations and findings. A quote that I once read says it perfectly. Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be. (Brault) Paradise, Mccandless, Janie, and Tyler all listened and followed this quote. They never tried to fit in other peoples idea of the perfect mold. They simply just lived their lives, learning from each mistake and getting back up.

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The Life Lessons Learned from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. (2022, May 10). Retrieved from

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