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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston

Chapter 5

Summary Chapter 5

Though Janie’s hair exudes feminine sexuality and is a locus of contestation among the men, it also has a masculine quality. Because of its shape, Janie’s braided hair is clearly a phallic symbol. This phallic symbolism is typical of Hurston’s deconstruction of traditional categories of representation. In Janie’s hair, feminine beauty, traditionally the object of male desire and aggression, acquires power and becomes the acting agent. Janie’s hair represents the power that she wields—her refusal (in later chapters) to be dominated by men and her refusal to obey traditional notions of female submission to male desire.