Both of the female protagonist's from Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Zora Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God experience a similar plight throughout each person's respective novel. Chopin and Hurston chose specific symbols used within each narrative to represent these characters as they struggle to understand who they are in life.
The two most notable symbols contained within The Awakening are the caged birds and the use of the sea. The most prominent of the two is the use of the symbolism behind the birds being trapped inside cages. They are in place to represent Edna's entrapment and the lifestyle of Victorian women. Madame Lebrun's parrot directly relates to Edna in the fact that they are cut off from the outside world and are limited by their living conditions. The sea on the other hand is symbolic of freedom. Because of waters connection to baptism it becomes a representation of renewal and rebirth. To add to this she then takes her own life while in it.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God the author uses Janie's hair, the pear tree, and the hurricane to expound upon her struggles. The hair represents Janie's power and individuality by the way she wears it down instead of the standard at the time for women to have it bundled up, clearly showing her defiant attitude toward the social norms for women. The pear tree reflects Janie's ideas on nature. She is captured by the bee collecting pollen from the pear tree's flowers, giving her a since of harmony. Throughout the novel she longs for a perfect life full of liveliness, zeal, and happiness much like the bee. Finally, the hurricane acts as the contrary of the pear tree, representing the destructive force of nature. The chaos of such a thing causes the main character to ponder her meaning in life.
Edna and Janie's effort to find meaning in their lives are closely similar, and so are the symbols used to portray their struggles. The caged birds and the way Janie...