Their Eyes Were Watching God


Cast of Characters

Janie—Janie is the novel’s heroine, raised by her grandmother Nanny in the South. She is married off at an early age to a man named Logan Killicks, but this marriage does not lead to love as Janie hopes. So she runs off with a sweet-talker named Joe Starks, who sets himself up as mayor of a town called Eatonville. There Janie submits to Joe for twenty years. After Joe’s death, Janie meets Tea Cake, and begins the life she always dreamed about—a life of love, simplicity, and playfulness.

The Washburns—This is the family for whom Nanny works, and with whose children Janie herself plays. It is a white family, but Janie does not realize that she is any different from them (externally) until a photographer comes one day to snap a photo of the children. Then Janie sees the contrast between herself and the Washburns for the first time. It does not, however, greatly affect her.

Johnny Taylor—Johnny is a boy who kisses Janie at an early age. He serves no purpose in the novel other than to alarm Janie’s grandmother, who takes Janie aside and tells her she is a woman now and that it is time to get married. Janie tries to object, of course, for she is simply pleased to receive a kiss—nothing more.

Nanny—Janie’s grandmother Nanny raises Janie after Janie’s mother runs off at an early age. Nanny’s dream is one of security and she wants Janie to marry a man who will protect her. Nanny’s fears are related to her life under slavery in the South. Janie, however, cannot relate. Janie has grown up free, and her dreams are of love, and her fears are related to a life of toil and oppression that does not give expression to the spirit she senses in the springtime of the world. It is Nanny who guides Janie into her first “practical” marriage.

Pheoby Watson—She is the only real friend that Janie is able to make in Eatonville. The other women are jealous of Janie’s position (as wife...

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