Their Eyes Were Watching God Analysis

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A Woman’s Journey to Self-discovery “She had waited all her life for something.” This quote is significant because it epitomizes the struggle of a woman to reach self-actualization. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston juxtaposes opposing places to emphasize the experience gained by the novel’s protagonist, Janie, in each respective location, and to emphasize the effect of that environment on Janie’s journey to attain her dreams. Through this comparison, the author explores the idea of living and experiencing life as a means of self-discovery. Moreover, Hurston expresses another theme central to the novel’s understanding. This particular theme denounces the belief that achieving life experience should always involve happiness. Through the juxtaposition of Eatonville to the Everglades Zora Neale Hurston depicts the self-discovery of a woman, attained only by embarking on through empiricism.In the novel Eatonville serves as a symbol of the oppression that Janie endured throughout the majority of her life. When the narration commences, prior to the introduction of Eatonville, Janie she is sixteen-years-old and living with her grandmother, Nanny. Nanny is characterized as strong-willed and overbearing. Furthermore, she is the first force of oppression, against which Janie must contend. The audience is provided with insight into Nanny’s perspective of the situation when Nanny remarks, “Ah was born back due in slavery...Ah didn’t want to be used for a work-ox and a brood-sow and Ah didn’t want mah daughter used dat way neither...Ah even hated the way you was born. But, all de same Ah said thank God, Ah got another chance” (Hurston 15). Because of her experiences, Nanny desires to protect Janie from all struggles in life; Nanny believes that by marrying Logan Killicks, Janie will be able to avoid the obstacles that her grandmother endured. Although Nanny’s intentions are virtuous, her actions only cause Janie to further rebel. Immediately after marrying


Cited: Hurston, Zora N. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York City: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1990. Print.

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