Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Committee Member

Broncano, Manuel

Committee Member

Niemeyer, Paul

Committee Member

Byham, Jack


This thesis focuses on a study of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Scott F. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The research explores the idea expressed within the opening lines of Hurston’s novel; men wait for their dreams to come to them, while women work towards making them reality. Marshall Berman’s All That is Solid Melts into Air: the Experience of Modernity serves as the foundation upon which the central argument of this paper is built. This study applies Berman’s theory to argue that analyzing Gatsby and Their Eyes through the lens of modernity brings the reader to a deeper understanding of the opening lines presented by Hurston. Furthermore, this work presents the notion that in order to attain their respective dreams, the main characters of both novels must become modern, according to the specifications outlined in Berman’s theory. The primary intent is to provide support for the notion that Janie Crawford is successful at achieving her dream as a result of fully subjecting herself to modernization. In contrast, Jay Gatsby is unsuccessful since he struggles to adapt, placing him further away from his dreams. Finally, the application of some of the arguments expressed in Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex to the novels aid in providing insight as to how gender plays a role in determining how an individual works toward making dreams come true. Traditionally, women have had to adapt to survive within the patriarchal system. On the other hand, the patriarchal system was built for and adapts to serve men. These notions may lead one to conclude that Janie Crawford succeeds because she submits to the process of modernization to achieve her dream and Jay Gatsby fails because he does not fully immerse himself in the process.