Imagery of the Sea in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Seraph on the Suwannee
“She Called In Her Soul to Come and See”
Both Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Seraph on the Suwannee act as accounts of female recognition. The two protagonists of the novels, Janie and Arvay, come realize the significance of personal enjoyment of life for one’s self, and how such an awareness causes you to be surrounded you with people who love you for your own happiness. In both novels Hurston uses literal and figurative imagery of the sea as a symbol for this self-affirmation. The connection is more pronounced with Arvay, as she and Jim finally return to one another while actually at sea, yet the connection runs with Janie throughout Their Eyes… as well as both women struggle to reach their “horizons” of answers and satisfaction.
The opening lines of Janie’s story consist of, “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizons…” These words suggest the necessity in life to endeavor to gain one’s own wishes and successes. For Janie and Arvay their wishes of finding men who love them and whom they love in return wholeheartedly do come true, but love isn’t always this simple. Both Tea Cake and Jim help these women to understand their power to pull in their dreams and stop allowing the “tide” to give them what it pleases in life. The two men simultaneously help to rid Janie and Arvay of many of their deep-rooted insecurities from girlhood and adolescence that they have carried along with them into these relationships. Janie and...