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Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

1279 words - 5 pages

Zora Neale Hurston, author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, presents many different symbols that all relatively revolve around two things; love and the fulfillment of Janie’s life. Janie frequently refers back to many things to guide her life, but her grandmother, “Nanny”, was the most prevalent of them all. As a child Janie spent almost all her time with Nanny who set guidelines for her. Nanny attempted to mold Janie’s mind to teach her to fend for herself, but to also find a man who could provide her with protection and a comfortable lifestyle, this way Janie did not have to worry about living a life Nanny lived. Their Eyes Were Watching God portrays Janie while she is married to three men; Logan Killicks, Joe “Jody” Starks, and Tea Cakes. In Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Hurston displays symbols in Janie’s relationships that help Janie direct her way through her life consisting of the pear tree, the removal of the head rags, and the horizon.
At the beginning of the book Janie is sitting under a pear tree admiring its perfect harmony with nature as “she saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight” (Hurston 11). Janie realizes that “this was marriage” (11). This relationship between the tree and the bees provide the perfect image of marriage and making love to Janie. As a sixteen year old girl Janie is understandably inexperienced in all aspects of love, but after Janie sees the accord between the bees and the tree she understands and badly yearns for it. Her first marriage with Logan Killicks did not provide her with the loving relationship she is searching for; instead she married an old unattractive man who her grandmother greatly approved of because of the positive financial aspect he provided Janie. While married to Logan she soon met Joe Starks, an up-in-coming entrepreneur who found Janie astonishing. When Joe and Janie first met, Joe immediately viewed Janie as a “pretty doll-baby” (29) which flattered Janie enough to think of Joe as a candidate for her pear tree fantasy. Although he was now a candidate, she still had her doubts and referred back to the allusion of the pear tree when she saw that “he did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees” (29). From her initial thoughts on love and making love she concludes her life by finding Tea Cake who “could be a bee to a blossom – a pear tree blossom in the spring” (106). Although their relationship was not the perfect relationship she was looking for, the pear tree also gave her false hope for a relationship with no imperfections. The pear tree symbolized what Janie was looking for with a man in terms of loving, being loved, and making love.
In Janie’s second marriage with Joe Starks she is forced to wear head rags to cover her hair symbolizing her forced confinement in...

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