Their Eyes Were Watching God Symbolism Lewis Central Ap Literature Essay

847 words - 4 pages

Zora Neale Hurston wrote in the novel, “their eyes were watching god” many symbols 
that contain deep meaning and relate to theme and plot. Throughout the reading of 
this book, many of these symbols are recurring with different plot events. Abstract 
concepts are found within studying these symbols. Some highly significant symbols 
that relate to the book are the horizon, the pear tree, Janie’s hair, the hurricane, 
and the mule. 
The dictionary definition of a horizon is, “the line at which the earth’s surface and 
the sky appear to meet”. The horizon is a long distance away from the perspective it 
is looked at. In the novel, the horizon represents better things, improvement, and the 
mystery of the future. Janie dreams of reeling in her horizon from the beginning of 
the novel, but is limited by her circumstances. For most of her life, she dreams of this 
horizon. After Tea Cake died, Janie realizes that her horizon has come in on the tide. 
“She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the 
world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her 
soul to come and see (Hurston 193). 
When Janie was sixteen, she sat under a pear tree and witnessed a moment of perfect 
harmony in nature. A bee came to the pear tree blossom and collected pollen from it. 
This represents Janie’s youth and sexuality. It is a relationship of passion based not on 
possession and domination, but instead an effortless union of individuals. This is the 
ideal relationship that Janie longs for throughout the book. She didn’t feel anything 
with Logan Killicks and she left him for Joe Starks. Over time their love faded because 
of his domineering attitude toward her. After she found Tea Cake, she noticed that 
her dream under the pear tree was fulfilled because of the love that they shared 
together. At the end of the novel, Janie reflects back to her pear tree and remembers 
the connection she had with Tea Cake. 
Janie’s hair is a phallic symbol that represents her own independence and identity. 
When Janie was with Joe, he would make her wear her hair up because he didn’t 
want anyone else to see the beauty it had. It was not right in that culture for a wife 
to wear her hair down like Janie did after Joe died. It represents her defiance to 
petty community standards. Janie wanted to wear her down because...

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