Zora Neale Hurston's Biography Their Essay

Length: 17 pages Sources: 20 Subject: Family and Marriage Type: Essay Paper: #43910602 Related Topics: Biography, Souls Of Black Folk, Trial Brief, Toni Morrison
Excerpt from Essay :


The sacred notions of love held by Janie are dashed when she is compelled into a marriage that was not based on love and she rushed into a second marriage in order to escape from her first marriage. Janie's first marriage hit the rocks as a result of not having feelings for the man (Logan Killicks).She married Logan Killicks after being pressurized by Nanny. Janie got married to second man Joe Starks but the marriage become terrible for her since Joe was a very jealous man. Joe ordered her around and never allowed her to engage in social interaction such as delivering speech to the townspeople. Joe never allowed Janie to present her opinion. Both marriages were devastating to Janie and therefore her quest for true love became a mirage. She however soldiered on and met her third husband.


Janie then met her third husband who he considered to be the Mr. Right except or the fact that he was young and therefore probably unreliable. Tea Cake was about 12 years younger tha her and he was not wealthy. Janie was skeptical amd even though he was in love with her for her money. After their marriage, Janie discovered Tea Cake's weaknesses. He gambles with his money and disappeared for several days without offering any explanation. This made Janie to worry too much. The fact that he was an attractive man meant that he was an object of female admiration and attention. Janie therefore was jealous.

The climax

The pride in Tea Cake is revealed when he refused to escape from the hurricane and even got bitten by a rabid dog . His pride prevented him from heeding warning of an eminent hurricane. He decided that they maintain their stay at Everglades until the storm ends. The hurricane, however was extremely strong and created too much danger and chaos. On his quest for higher ground, he got bitten by a rabid dog. Later on, Tea Cake, who was rabid frightened Janie who responded by pointing a gun at Tea cake. Tea Cake also had his gun pointed at her. Tea Cake made accusations against Janie saying she never treated him right and that she was unfaithful. She tried to convince Tea Cake to lower his gun but he failed to lower his gun. His illness was controlling him. Janie is therefore forced to fatally shoot Tea Cake in self-defense.

The suspense

Janie is tried in the court of law for the murder of Tea Cake. Other than being allowed to mourn him in peace, she is brought to trail coincidentally on the same day that he is murdered. She was however set free.


Janie leaves Everglade after wrapping up all of her business. She soon buried Tea cake then she went back to her home in Eatonville.

After the trial, Janie buries her beloved Tea Cake and eventually returns home to Eatonville.


While back in her home town, Eatonville, she feels satisfied with her life's adventure. She narrates the story to Phoeby. She however, leant two lessons; that individuals must go out and fully leave their lives and that they must find their God while seeking their lives' quests. The book concludes by Tea cake coming in terms with the death of Tea cake.


The novel Their Eyes Were Watching God commences at the end of the story. We initially see Janie at a time when she was already old and had already finalized her life's adventure that she relates by saying she had been "tuh de horizon and back."(Hurston 1937,284).By being "tuh de horizon and back," she realized how personal how her quest was (Kubitschek 1983,113). She then narrated her story to Phoeby. From the start of the book, there is a very important role that is played by language. The book is artistically framed to appear as an act of storytelling than that of


This is evident from the fact that even before Janie begins speaking, there are murmurs of her gossips that are heard on the porch. An example being the expression "A mood come alive. Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song"( Hurston 1937,2). Throughout the entire book, the control of language is evident as being very important. The initial chapters introduce some of the most important and yet complex roles that are played by both speech and language throughout the entire novel. One of the most dominant aspects of the book that is heavily commented on is the use of split style of narrative by Hurston (Natchez, and Ward 2002, 13). The novels commences with an omniscient voice of a third-person narrator.


The novel has symbolism in certain parts. The moments that Janie had under the pear tree is symbolic of her life experience in terms of sexuality. This is also evident since the moment is reference throughout the entire novel. The experience she had under the pear tree relates to several symbolic themes. The most eminent one is the sexuality at the time of spring. Throughout the entire book, the peer tree is used to denote her emotional and sexual fulfillment. The tree at initially appears to portray the image of the traditional gender stereotypes in which the tree represents the female gender and waits in a passive state for the more male bee which is aggressive to penetrates the blossoms that it bears. Janie is said to have "stretched on her back beneath the pear tree," (Hurston 1937,15) and then she had an experienced which was visionary that came to her in and a voice that she described as "inaudible." Janie said that that the experience could not be experienced in words since it was orgasmic (Davie 1993, 455). Hurston then changes the stereotypical role of females in the society when she said the "the thousand sister calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation (Hurston 1937,11).The revelation that she saw was her interpretation of what marriage ought to be. The pollination of the blossom by the bee symbolizes sexual intercourse. Her opinion and though of marriage was something that is filled with lust and love. It then becomes clear that she was deceived by her youthfulness. This opinion soon changed after her marriages to Logan and Starks; these marriages lacked love and lust as she envisioned. This is to say that even though the tree awaits the bee to arrive, the embrace of love has been shown to be reciprocal. It is worth pointing out that from the beginning of the novel, men and women have been shown to be basically different. Janie wants a female identity to act parallel to the male one which she shuns. In the normal world the males and females should complement each other in various ways through a union that is guided by a mutual relationships/marriages. This however proves to be elusive.

The horizon symbolism

The horizon is yet again another symbolism in the novel. This is because the horizon represents wild imagination with endless possibilities; the idea life that was Janie's quest. Horizon also represented the boundary that existed between the normal world and the heavenly Kingdoms of God. This is evident from the phrase "Janie knew that God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up. It was wonderful to see it take form with the sun and emerge from the gray dust of its making."This is an indication that what exists beyond the new horizon is never predictable. This is because Janie never knew what to expect of her new husband Jody as well as the new life that Jody offered her. Jody according to Janie is better that Logan who was dull and like a mule. This is because Jody was ambitious and had power. Jody is representative of the masculine power as well as symbol of power and aggression. This is because of his attempts to buy, control as well as have total domination of the world.

This novel has other symbolic statements within its chapters. The color white for example is mentioned in certain parts of the story. The story is about black individual who live in a black community. The author uses the color white to denote the race relations of white supremacy and dominance of almost all socio-economic sectors at that time. The other symbolism is contained in the phrase "The house that is built for Joe and Janie Starks is painted a gloaty, sparkly white Hurston 1937,47)."This symbolizes the low social status of their household. They were living in servant quarters. The implication is that all other house look like servant quarters.The question that comes to mind is why a house would be painted all white in a predominantly black neighborhood. The next symbolism can be…

Sources Used in Documents:



Ashe, Bertram D., "Why don't he Like My Hair?": Constructing African-American Standards

of Beauty in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Watching God. African-American Review, Vol. 29, No. 4, 1995

Awkward, Michael "The Inaudible Voice of it All': Silence, Voice, and Action in Their Eyes

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