Their Eyes Were Watching God Analysis Essay

939 WordsJun 10, 20134 Pages
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…show more content…
Janie’s concept of marriage relates to an interaction between bees and a pear tree, during which time Janie witnessed “the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree...so this was a marriage” (Hurston 11). Because she recognizes that Logan will never be able to fulfill her ideal of marriage, Janie eagerly absconds to Eatonville with Joe Starks. In Eatonville, Janie’s marriage is initially characterized by passion and affluence. However, Joe’s desire to control Janie leads him to coerce her into repressing any personal characteristics that others may find attractive; as an act of dominance Joe convinces Janie to fasten her hair. By doing this, Janie represses her strength and sexuality. As time passes, Janie realizes that she will not become the person that she dreamed of becoming while remaining in Eatonville. After Joe’s death, Janie decides to liberate herself from the constraints thrust upon her in Eatonville. Janie’s newfound freedom is symbolized when she decides to burn the rags that Joe forced her to wear over her hair. Because Eatonville represented oppression to her, Janie escapes to discover herself. Conversely, the Everglades represent the cessation of Janie’s journey to self-discovery. Janie and Tea Cake initially move to “de muck” for Tea Cake to seek employment (Hurston 122). However, Janie becomes infatuated with the atmosphere, and decides to permanently settle with her new
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