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Tree Imagery in Hurston’s Novels, Their Eyes Were Watching God and Seraph on the Suwanee

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Tree Imagery in Hurston’s Novels, Their Eyes Were Watching God and Seraph on the Suwanee


Hurston uses the fruit tree as an important image in both of the texts: the blossoming pear tree for Janie and the budding mulberry tree for Arvay. Each holds a unique meaning for its counterpart. In looking at Janie’s interaction with her tree, I chose to focus on the passage on page 11, beginning with “She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree…”. For Arvay, I chose the passage on page 37, beginning with “They entered the place under the tree…”.

The two tree passages have many similarities and differences. The most obvious difference is that Hurston first introduces us to the pear tree with Janie alone, whereas we have our first experience of the mulberry tree with both Arvay and Jim. This in itself is symbolic of important aspects of both of the characters. For Janie, it points to her independence and strength. For Arvay, it seems to show her dependence and frailty.
Another difference lies in the position and shape of the tree itself. In Their Eyes, “the gold of the sun”, “t...


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