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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Main Ideas

Metaphors & Similes

Main Ideas Metaphors & Similes

 Chapter 1

“If God don’t think no mo’ ’bout ’em then Ah do, they’s a lost ball in de high grass.”

In this metaphor, Janie expresses to Pheoby that she couldn't care less about her gossiping neighbors, explaining that if God cares about her neighbors as much as Janie does, then her neighbors are in real trouble.  

Chapter 2

Nanny’s words made Janie’s kiss across the gatepost seem like a manure pile after a rain. 

Nanny angrily reproaches 16-year-old Janie for kissing Johnny Taylor because she does not want any of the local boys or men taking advantage of Janie’s innocence, and the reproach causes Janie to look at her first kiss as something dirty. 

Chapter 5

Take for instance that new house of his. It had two stories with porches, with bannisters and such things. The rest of the town looked like servants’ quarters surrounding “the big house.”

Joe Starks’s house is so much larger and grander than the other Eatonville residents’ homes that the contrast is reminiscent of the difference between a main house and its slave quarters, especially to the townspeople who are only two generations removed from slavery. 

Chapter 12

The next morning Pheoby picked her way over to Janie’s house like a hen to a neighbor’s garden.  

The narrator compares Pheoby to a hen sneaking into a neighbor’s garden because instead of walking straight to Janie’s house, Pheoby meanders and acts distracted so it  doesn’t look like she has a reason to talk to Janie.   

Chapter 13

The thing made itself into pictures and hung around Janie’s bedside all night long.  

While Janie waits for Tea Cake to return, she worries in graphic detail that she may be about to experience the same fate as another widow whose disastrous affair with a man broke her spirit and killed her, almost as if she is watching a film of it that keeps her up all night. 

Chapter 14

Tea Cake’s house was a magnet, the unauthorized center of the “job.”  

Tea Cake’s friendly, outgoing personality draws the other workers to his house, and also to him, the way a magnet attracts metals.

Chapter 16

“. . . He kin take most any lil thing and make summertime out of it when times is dull. Then we lives offa dat happiness he made til some mo’ happiness comes along.” 

Janie tells Mrs. Turner that one thing she loves about Tea Cake is his ability to turn any unpleasant or ordinary situation into something warm and pleasant, which is how she thinks about summertime.  

Chapter 18

So she was home by herself one afternoon when she saw a band of Seminoles passing by. The men walking in front and the laden, stolid women following them like burros.  

The narrator compares the Seminole women to burros, or pack animals, because they walk behind the men, carrying all of the goods on their backs to escape the impending hurricane. 

Chapter 18

It woke up old Okechobee and the monster began to roll in his bed. Began to roll and complain like a peevish world on a grumble. 

The wind from the hurricane creates huge, rolling waves on Lake Okechobee that the narrator compares to a monster because the water looks menacing and the lake may crash through the dikes and hurt people. 

Chapter 19

Then she saw all of the colored people standing up in the back of the courtroom. Packed tight like a case of celery, only much darker than that. 

The Black observers at Janie’s trial must stand in the back of the courtroom, and there is such a large number that the narrator likens them to stalks of celery standing upright with no room to move in a packing crate.