Synopsis of 'Their Eyes Were Watching God'

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Synopsis of ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’

‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ is a female bildungsroman and it is a polyphonic novel of personal development in which the protagonist, Janie searches for an authentic identity, a quest for romance and in turn achieving self fulfillment and voice. Throughout the novel, Hurston highlights different themes through poetic dialect such as love, racism and gender inequality. The plot is structured into Janie’s four relationships with Nanny, Logan Killicks, Joe Starks and Tea Cake where each relationship contributes to the journey motif by symbolizing different stages of her journey.

Janie’s story all began in Nanny’s backyard as a flashback to where she observes ‘a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom.’ This vision not only leads to a sexual awakening, orgasmic experience to her but rather became a metaphorical representation of her voice and vision of love throughout her life. Bearing in mind that this was presently Janie’s philosophy of ‘a marriage’, she eventually sees Johnny Taylor and kisses him. This innocent act immediately caught Nanny’s attention which tempted her to marry off Janie to Logan Killicks, an elderly man, since he could have provided the financial support and protection that Nanny thought was best for her. However, marrying Killicks was depressing since he desecrated the pear tree. She was oppressed and forced into doing hard labour. Soon, her passionate and undying love made her forsake Logan and she went on for the ambitious, Joe Starks.

He promised to her the emotional security that she sought, prestige and most of all property so she migrated with him to the newfound, all-black city of Eatonville. Soon, she realizes that his promises were not kept and she was merely a possession. He wanted to ‘be a big ruler of things with her reaping the benefits,’ and also he was someone who ‘spoke for change and chance.’ Using free indirect discourse, Hurston shows Janie as becoming...
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