Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Janie's entire life is one of a journey. She lives through a grandmother, three husbands, and innumerable friends. Throughout is all, she grows closer and closer to her ideals about love and how to live one's life. Zora Neale Hurston chooses to define Janie not by what is wrong in her life, but by what is good in it. Janie changes a lot from the beginning to the end of Their Eyes Were Watching God, but the imagery in her life always conjures positive ideas in the mind of the reader.

Janie's life begins under the watchful eye of her grandmother. Her grandmother has given up her own happiness to raise Janie and her mother. Right away, it is obvious that Janie's life is going to be different than her grandmother's. For starters, Janie has very different ideas about love than any other character. She may not be able to clearly define her thoughts, but the reader still sees that Janie's ideas are romantic and full of sensuality. The first glimpse into the past that the reader sees involves Janie underneath a pear tree, watching the flowers bloom. The descriptive language ("From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom" [10]) beautifully juxtaposed with complex thought ("The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It . . . followed her. . . and caressed her . . ." [10]) lets the reader experience the same feelings that Janie does, even though she is not yet old enough to fully describe them herself.

Janie's grandmother is old and weak. She never had a person in her life who cared for her and truly wanted to look out for her well-being. As a result, she is frightened by Janie's refusal to follow the mold, her refusal to marry for convenience instead of love. Janie's grandmother describes herself as "a cracked plate" [19], showing that not even she has confidence in her own ability to be strong and weather adversity. Janie learns a very important lesson from her grandmother. Not a lesson to...
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