Their Eyes Were Watching God
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In Zora Neale Hurston’s book, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” she conveys the life of an African woman named Janie Crawford who comes home to her hometown of Eatonville, Florida. In Janie’s reunion back home, she confides that her mother left her and that her grandmother raised her. Due to the fact Janie’s grandmother was a slave, her perspective on the world is distorted. Her grandmother’s perspective is that an African woman should be married to simply anyone in the realm of upper class society.
The chosen man on who Janie was to wed is a farmer by the name of Logan. Logan did not meet her expectations and she was horrified with living with him. However, a younger more attractive and ambitious gentleman named Jody Starks introduced himself to Janie and within a few weeks, they ran off and got married. This would not be as ideal as it initially seemed, as they moved to an all African town named Eatonville where he became the mayor and basically forbid Janie to converse with any middle class citizen.
Jody would eventually meet his demise after the marriage failed and they separated, which lead Janie to meet a younger gentleman named Tea Cake. They leave together and moved to Jacksonville which was a mistake as he thought Janie was cheating on him. As a result of this, Janie senses he was going to kill him so she acted first and murdered him with a pistol. Janie is put on trial for murder where she is surprisingly found not guilty and returns to her home roots of Eatonville.
Zora N. Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is rich with symbolism. The novel is primarily about a woman who struggles in her search for self while trying to reconcile her beliefs with those imposed on her by society and the men in her life. Important symbols in the novel include:
- Janie’s hair
- The pear tree
- The horizon
- The hurricane
- Land ownership and wealth
- Janie’s overalls
All of the symbols provide the reader with clues as to how and why Janie’s grows and developments into the person she becomes by the end of the novel.