Their Eyes Were Watching God Reading Questions
1. Describe the contrast made for the “porch sitters” as workers and as storytellers (1-2). 2. How do the porch sitters respond to Janie’s return to town? • Men
3. What is Janie’s impression of the porch sitters?
1. Janie has an identity problem until she is around six. Why? • racial identity problem
• personal identity problem
• social identity problem
2. On page 12, the narration changes. Why might it be necessary for someone else to begin telling Janie’s story now? 3. On pages 10-11, the narrator describes Janie’s awakening urges to experience life, love, etc… Where does she first notice this urge? 4. What does Nanny do to short circuit Janie’s longing to experience life? 5. What simile is used to describe the way Nanny treats Janie’s first kiss? (page 12) *hint: kinda gross 6. What are Nanny’s plans for Janie?
7. How does Janie feel about Nanny’s plans for her?
8. What metaphor does Nanny use to describe the plight of black women? What does she mean? (page 14) 9. What was Nanny’s mulatto daughter’s name? How might the name relate to Janie’s experiences under the pear tree? 10. What parallel experiences have implanted negative fears about men in Nanny’s head?
1. What troubles Janie about her marriage to Logan Killicks? (pages 22-23) 2. What is Nanny’s definition of the good life? (What does Nanny think is important in life – especially in regards to Logan Killicks?) 3. Chapter three ends with Janie’s first dream dying. What had that dream been?
1. Describe Joe Starks.
2. What metaphor does Joe use to describe his lifelong dream? What does he mean? (page 27) 3. What is the significance of Joe and Janie’s meeting under the trees? 4. What does Logan Killicks do to finally make Janie decide to leave? 5. What symbolic action does Janie do that indicates her readiness for change, as she leaves Logan? 6. Janie leaves with what she calls a new dream. What is it? How is it different from her first dream? (pages 30-31)
1. How does Joe Starks get his reputation started in West Maitland/Eatonville? 2. What general lesson about speaking do Janie and Tony Taylor learn at the grand opening of Joe Stark’s store? (pages 39-41) (In other words, who is the speaker of the town and why?) 3. What honor is bestowed upon Joe because of his ability to speak and move the people? 4. On page 40 we see Joe’s first effort to silence Janie, to keep her from her own “voicing.” Describe that incident. 5. How does Janie react to Joe’s silencing her?
6. What does Joe ask of Janie that is parallel to what Killicks asks? 7. How does Janie feel about her second marriage? (page 44) 8. What is Joe Stark’s definition of the good life? How does his compare with Nanny’s?
1. What significance does the store porch play in Janie’s life? (pages 50-51, 53) 2. What two demands does Joe make upon Janie that keeps her from being herself? Why does he make them? (pages 50-51) 3. Janie’s first oration comes as a shock to the town. How does Hambo describe her “voice?” 4. Find an example of hyperbole (see literary terms) on page 62. Explain its meaning. 5. One page 67, the narrator says that Janie “learned to hush.” Why has she been forced to learn this lesson? 6. Jody kills another of Janie’s dreams with what aggressive/abusive act? What does she learn about her marriage? (page 69) 7. What significant act does Janie commit that begins her finding a “voice?”
1. How has marriage and silence affected Janie?
2. Janie finally can take no more verbal abuse from Jody. What does she say to silence him? 3. What is “playing the dozens?” Why does Sam Watson mention this game after Janie’s outburst? 4. What effect do Janie’s words have on Jody’s psyche? (page 75-76)
1. How does Jody treat Janie when he gets sick?...
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