In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston basically follows Janie for
her whole life. Hurston, in the beginning of the book, said that women “forget all those things
they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they want to forget. The dream is the
truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.” As Huston said, by the time Jane returns to
Eatonville, Janie has discovered herself through her relationships with Logan Killicks, Joe
Starks, and Tea Cake, and we can see that Janie has painfully discovered her real dream.
Therefore, Janie’s life was a quest for true love and self-fulfillment, and Their Eyes Were
Watching God is a narrative about Janie’s quest to free herself from repression and explore
her own identity. Hurston’s narrative also focuses on the emergence of a female self in a
male-dominated world, through Janie, a half-white, half-black girl growing up in Florida in
the early 1930’s.
Janie saw her life as a tree that’s full of life. Once Janie was a teenager, she was
lying beneath a pear tree watching the visiting bees. Janie then saw it as 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). Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her
limp and languid. Under the pear tree, Janie learns what the love and marriage is. Janie
dreams of a true love that would fulfill both her and the “shore”. While Janie was searching
for a true love, she meets a young man named Johnny Taylor and falls in love. Her first
encounter with Johnny Taylor was described as “Through pollinated air she saw a glorious
being coming up the road. In her former blindness she had known him as shiftless Johnny
Taylor, tall and lean” (Hurston, 11). Janie has entered her womanhood, and she was now in
love with him. Through her watching under the pear tree, Janie experiences a transformation
from a teenage girl to a woman who now is seeking for a true love.
However, one day Nanny caught Janie kissing Johnny Taylor, and got mad
at Janie for kissing a guy like Johnny Taylor, whom she described as “trashy, no breath-and-
britches, and using Janie’s body to wipe his foot on” (Hurston, 13). Then Nanny becomes
convinced that Janie needs to get married right away. Nanny chooses Logan Killicks for her
granddaughter simply because he has sixty acres of land on the main road. Nanny thinks that
his land and properties would provide Janie with the security needed to be a young black
woman during the time. We can see that Janie and Nanny’s values are in conflict here.
Nanny, concerned with a previous experience with Janie’s mother, believes that a man’s
status and wealth as they can protect and keep Janie safe. Janie, on the other hand, wanted to
marry a man who she really liked and did not really care about...