Symbols in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston uses many symbols throughout her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, to represent many different things. Symbols are important in a novel because they reveal ideas and qualities beyond the literal sense of the symbol. Symbolism also helps the reader better understand the deeper meanings of the book. Zora Neale Hurston uses various symbols such as a horizon, Janie’s hair, and a pear tree in Their Eyes Were Watching God.
The horizon is a powerful symbol that is recurrent throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God. The horizon symbolizes goals and improvement in the future. The horizon’s first occurrence is in the first paragraph of the novel
“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men” (Hurston 1).
Goals and dreams of the future are represented by the horizon and Zora Neale Hurston states that not everybody reaches their goals, but all men try for them. Janie’s dream remains out of reach and on the horizon for the most of her life, until she meets Tea Cake. All she wants is affection and love, this was apparent when she was married to Joe Stark and did as he said, such as tying her hair in a kerchief. When Janie thinks about Joe Stark she knows that if she marries him then it won‘t be the kind of marriage that will last, but a different way of life from what she has with Logan. “Janie pulled back a long time because he did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees, but he spoke for far horizon” (29). Janie realizes that Joe Starks goals are very far away and are hard ...

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... Cake, the fulfillment of her dream under the pear tree, "He looked like the love thoughts of women. He could be a bee to a blossom--a pear tree blossom in the spring. He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps." (p 106) she has met the man that she was searching for.
In the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston uses symbolism to better reveal moods and emotions throughout novel. The horizon represents Janie’s goals that take most of her life to reach, Janie’s hair represents her independence and domination, and the pear tree represents love and sexuality.

Works Cited

"Symbols and Metaphors." Symbols and Metaphors. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Perennial Library,
1990. Print
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