Their Eyes Were Watching God (Explanation)

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Analysis of Pear Tree and Mule Metaphor
In prose, one would rarely find a piece work in which the author uses language and poetic devices to convey a message. In prose, it is usually the story itself that conveys mood and a message. However, occasionally an author would strategically place language and poetic devices in a work making it a glorious and enticing piece to read. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel that does such action, mixing both language and poetic devices to convey a mood and message. Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of an African-American woman name Janie living in the South during the 1900’s. The story spans over her life time starting from her youth days when she was raised by her grandmother to her quest for true love which leads her to three tragic marriages. Their Eyes Were Watching God, although having a remarkably moving story line uses many poetic elements, particularly, two metaphors: the pear tree and the mule. These metaphors, not only constitute a big part of the story but they also show Janie’s journey through marriage, and her resulting character as a self-aware, confident and balanced individual.

The first metaphor that appears in Their Eyes Were Watching God is that of a pear tree. It appears early in the novel when the story takes us back to when Janie was 16 and she found herself captivated by a pear tree. She discovered this tree and its wonders, “From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from leaf-buds to the snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously.” The pear tree symbolizes Janie’s coming of age in which she blooms into womanhood and sexual maturity. This is when she first realizes what she really wants more than anything: True love. Janie’s idealism leads her to deny her Nanny’s belief that she must marry someone just for money or just to be better off. She denies her Nanny’s lessons about what the ideal woman should be. She wants to marry someone that will...
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