Their Eyes Were Watching God
full title · Their Eyes Were Watching God
author · Zora Neale Hurston
type of work · Novel
genre · Bildungsroman (coming-of-age novel), American Southern spiritual journey
language · English
time and place written · Written in seven weeks during 1937 while Hurston was in Haiti
date of first publication · September 1937
publisher · J.B. Lippincott, Inc.
narrator · The narrator is anonymous, though it is easy to detect a distinctly Southern sensibility in the narrator’s voice.
point of view · Though the novel is narrated in the third person, by a narrator who reveals the characters’ thoughts and motives, most of the story is framed as Janie telling a story to Pheoby. The result is a narrator who is not exactly Janie but who is abstracted from her. Janie’s character resonates in the folksy language and metaphors that the narrator sometimes uses. Also, much of the text relishes in the immediacy of dialogue.
tone · The narrator’s attitude toward Janie, which Hurston appears to share, is entirely sympathetic and affirming.
tense · Past
setting (time) · The early twentieth century, presumably the 1920s or 1930s
setting (place) · Rural Florida
protagonist · Janie
major conflict · During her quest for spiritual fulfillment, Janie clashes with the values that others impose upon her.
rising action · Janie’s jettisoning of the materialistic desires of Nanny, Logan, and Jody; her attempt to balance self-assertion with her love for Tea Cake; the hurricane—this progression pushes her toward the eventual conflict between her environment (including the people around her) and her need to understand herself
climax · The confrontation between Janie and the insane Tea Cake in Chapter 19 marks the moment at which Janie asserts herself in the face of the most difficult obstacle she has had to face.
falling action · Janie’s decision to shoot Tea Cake demonstrates that she has the strength to save herself even though it means killing the man she loves; the white women’s support of Janie points toward the importance of individuality as a means of breaking down stereotypes.
themes · Language as a mechanism of control; power and conquest as a means to fulfillment; love and relationships versus independence; spiritual fulfillment; materialism
motifs · Community, race and racism, the folklore quality of religion
symbols · Janie’s hair, the pear tree, the horizon, the hurricane
foreshadowing · In Chapter 1, we learn that Janie has been away from her town for a long time and that she ran off with a younger man named Tea Cake; Janie then tells Pheoby that Tea Cake is “gone.” The entire beginning, then, foreshadows the culmination of Janie’s journey.
by Mike_Halk, September 25, 2012
reading this book will send you into a deep depression because after you finish you will realize you spent hours translating this book into real english in your head and then you gained absolutely nothing from it.
293 out of 424 people found this helpful10
by coco_woah, October 06, 2012
Theirs also a really good movie adaption of this book, we watched it in school. It's with Halle Berry as Jane Crawford.
17 out of 33 people found this helpful2
by chinchilla99999, January 29, 2013
abcdefg gummy bears are chasing me one is red one is blue one is trying to steal my shoe now im running 4 my life cuz the red one has a knife im running at full speed ahead but then i stop cuz i havent been fed i feel my energy bar depleting but then a turkey begins retreating he whines about his finga and then i prone walk since i havent unlocked ninja i barrel roll into the red teddy take his knife and get ready i stab his fluffeh gooey back and then prepare for the secret attack i drop it to the groung and get a predator missile to move a... Read more→
113 out of 175 people found this helpful1