Critical Analysis on Their Eyes Were Watching God

Posted on October 14, 2011

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel that was written by an African American author, Zora Neale Hurston. The book was launched in 1937 and primarily focuses on the life experiences of the protagonist Janie Crawford (Bloom 59). The story is set in central and southern Florida and epitomizes Janie’s search for self-awareness through love and relationships (Bowers 83). At the heart of the entire narration are the three marriages that Janie has gone through. The story analyses the quest for fulfillment, self-awareness and freedom by the main character through the experiences she had specifically in her three respective marriages. The story is told of her through a comprehensive flashback of her closest ally, Pheoby. The plot emanates in manner that after her extensive marriages, it becomes the role of Pheoby to narrate the story to the unaccommodating crowd (Scott 49). The book is an account of Janie’s struggle for self-awareness and fulfillment and the things she went through in order to achieve that.

Janie was brought up by her grandmother after the disappearance of her mother upon her birth. Her mother had a lot of expectations in her daughter. When she escaped she passed all these expectations upon Janie. Hence, she wanted Janie to live a life that she has never lived. As a result, she married her to a Logan Killicks, an older farmer (Snodgrass 12). However, Janie became so miserable since she did not get the love that she wanted. She eloped with a sweet talking man called glib Jody Starks to another place where they get married. Jody was a wealthy man who is also a political leader (Hermes et al 64). He treats Janie as a trophy woman. Most of his treatments are not accepted by her but she perseveres until her marriage ends. After her second marriage, Janie is financially independent. Therefore, she rejects the many suitors who come her way but falls in love with Vergible Woods and they get married (Levine and Novel Units, Inc. Staff 25). Eventually, Janie becomes so happy since she gets the love and freedom that she needed. In fact woods treat her as an equal and she enjoy she marriage so much. Conversely, after being bitten by a rabbit during the hurricane, woods tries to shoot Janie but Janie manages to shoot her in self defense. The end of the third marriages wraps up the experiences of Janie (Lester 76). She returns home to a very anxious neighborhood. She relies on Pheoby to tell her story.

I find the book to be very constructive in its presentation of the themes and styles. Essentially, the author manages to provide several subjects to the reader through Janie’s experiences (McMahand 70). I tend to believe that the experiences of Janie are synonymous with those of many other people especially women of African American descent. So, the book perfectly epitomizes the quest for fulfillment and the inherent price towards the achievement of such an endeavor.

The book is written in a very distinctive manner (Collins 36). The use of language is most significant. Actually, the author uses African American ascent of English. Perhaps this is to exemplify the setting of his plot. Basically, the book has been criticized for employing African American English in language. Subsequently, the book has been written in a reflective manner. In fact the experiences of Janie fully epitomize the personal experiences of the author. The protagonist is a refection of the author. The book has also been written in a flashback method through Janie’s close friend. This is also an attribute that is worth to note (Minds 76). Fundamentally, the book has a unique style of presentation. And the author has exemplified a number of themes through her way of writing.

The title was chosen so as to exemplify the society’s reaction to the life experiences of Janie. Perhaps it was the crowds whose eyes were watching God (Awkward 29). Eyes Were Watching God explores a number of themes. These include is love and Relationships versus sovereignty, Power and subjugation as Means to accomplishment as well as Language: dialogue and Silence (Linde 41). Janie was driven by her quest for love, awareness and independent. Throughout her respective three marriages we see Janie fighting for these three things. Even when the marriages broke she never gave up (Wall 91). This was primarily due to her strong will to be free and live an independent life. Eventually, she finds these three aspects in her third marriage. For this reason, she becomes very happy. Even after her third husband death, she finds her ultimate happiness (Koss et al 11). Several techniques are used by the author. First is language. This is very central to the themes thus explored by the author. Her use of silence and speech as language coincides with the protagonist pursuit of awareness and independence. The weather plays a very definitive role in the evolution of the plot of the story. The great Okeechobee hurricane brings the end of Janie’s third marriage (Hurston 31). In as much as Janie and Tea Cake survive the incident marks the beginning of the end of the marriage. Teacake is bitten by a rabid saving Janie from drowning. This leads to the shooting incident where Teacake dies.

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