Their Eyes Were Watching God:Symbolism in Nature In today’s fast paced society, there seems hardly room for peace. Peace, in self, peace in mind, and of course the everlasting peace in love. We may fool ourselves with meaningless gifts of diamonds and rings, but deep down, there’s a part of us longing for satisfaction. Unlike Janie Crawford – the principal character in Zora Neale Hurston’s heart clenching novel Their Eyes Were Watching God – who will give everythingfor only one moment of true love, many of us would throw in the towel when it gets too hard. Janie illustrates her amazing vision of nirvana in the simplicity and purity of a pear tree all while embarking on a tremendous journey to find her true self. This paper will examine Janie’s metaphorical life and perhaps help uncover a part of ourselves in the process. Janie, like her mother, was born as an inter-racial rape victim.
All her life she was criticized for this. As a result, she struggled with personal identity. She knew she was different, but she didn't know how. She knew that there was something missing in her life and it took her most of her life to find it.
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When Janie was a young girl, her mother left home a drunkard and forced Janie to be raised by her Nanny. Nanny brought her up in a white neighborhood and dressed her in nice clothes. She didn't know she was black until she looked at a picture of herself next to all of her white friends. This is where the identity crisis begins. As a teenager, she discovered a oneness with nature. There was this peace that she only knew while sitting under a pear tree by her home. Here she would dream about being a beautiful tree in bloom. It was under this tree where Janie would discover the image of the woman she wanted to be.
All she needed to do was find it; find herself. When she was 16 years old, Janie kissed a boy for the first time. Her nanny, wanting nothing but the best in life for her granddaughter, saw this kiss and declared Janie a woman and soon convinces Janie to marry Logan Killicks, a local wealthy black man. Nanny’s selfish intentions may have brought peace to the old woman near the end of the line but Janie finds nothing but strength to move on as this plastic marriage eventually falls apart. Janie is now sure of the self she longs to be and sums up her dream with one line of sweet dialog, “Ahwants things sweed wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think.
Ah…(Hurston, 23)" Eventually Nanny dies and Janie leaves Logan to run off with Joe Starks. Joe is a stylishly dressed man, with an expensive, "citified" look. He carries a breath of hope in his talk which Janie quickly admires. "Janie pulled back a long time because he did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees, but he spoke for far horizon.
He spoke for change and chance (Hurston, 28).” Sheeventually marries Joe and reaches another branch in the search for herself. Just like before,.