The spiritual journey to self-actualization in Zora Neale Hurston's Seraph on the Suwanee.
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Gainey, Jami Lee.
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Although critics pay much attention to Zora Neale Hurston's religious discourse in most of her novels, they fail to discuss religion in her last novel, Seraph on the Suwanee. Reflection on the aspects of religion in Hurston's previous novels provides a framework through which to understand Seraph, specifically concerning the character development of both Jim and Arvay. Abraham Maslow's theories of self-actualization also provide a useful framework in which to understand the spiritual dimension of Hurston's treatment of character and agency. A detailed analysis of Seraph reveals Hurston's specific concern in character development with the spiritual journey to achieve vision, which she explicitly explains in The Sanctified Church. Examining her final novel through these two frameworks reveals the significance of Hurston's understanding of spirituality in self-actualization, which enlightens the characterization of Jim by revealing that Hurston presents Jim as a self-actualized individual through whom Arvay eventually achieves self-actualization.