Friday, August 19, 2016

Their Eyes and Symbols

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a brief novel that is loaded with meaning.  A search in our magazine article database, EBSCO Host, for "Their Eyes Were Watching God," and "symbol*" (symbols, symbolism, etc.), yields articles that discuss many elements of the novel and their meanings:

  • Janie's hair
  • mules
  • the hurricane
  • pear tree
  • pollen (and bees)
  • rabies

We're interested in what these (and other) things mean to you.  Comment here and we'll discuss next week!


  1. The hurricane marks the change from Janie's happy life, then downhill to Tea Cake's passing.

  2. I like that - the hurricane as turning point. Thank you!

  3. Interesting to note the similarities and differences between certain beliefs of Janie with those of another fictional woman, Addie Bundren, who is the main character, also in a 1930s novel (As I Lay Dying) set in the South and written by the southern author William Faulkner.  Both women come to experience the difference between "words" and "doing".  Addie: ". . . I knew that living was terrible and . . . that was when I learned that words are no good; that words dont ever fit . . .  I had been tricked by words . . ."    Janie's Nanny, regarding Janie's husband:  "Wait awhile, baby.  Yo' mind will change."   Janie: 'The familiar people and things had failed her . . . ' (Nanny, her husbands)
           However, regarding their contrasting general outlooks on life:   Addie:  ". . . the reason for living is getting ready to stay dead.  (Addie had her children, and says: "And then I could get ready to die.")    Janie's sunnier outlook:  Their Eyes Were Watching God tells her story through symbols, motifs, and narrative of the achievement of Janie's dreams of love and freedom and her finding by the end that "Here was peace."

    1. Wow - that is so thoughtful and interesting. I hadn't thought about Faulkner, but should have. It's a great comparison.

    2. Thanks, Alice Walker's The Color Purple would probably provide more obvious bases for good comparisons, but Faulkner is always just so nuanced and challenging.