In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, the image of a pear tree reverberates throughout the novel. The pear tree is not only a representation of Janie's life - blossoming, death, metamorphosis, and rebirth - but also the spark of curiosity that sets Janie on her quest for self-discovery. Janie is essentially "rootless" at the beginning of her life, never having known her mother or father and having been raised by her grandmother, Nanny. Nanny even says to Janie, "Us colored folks is branches without roots and that makes things come round in queer ways" (Hurston, 16). Under a pear tree in Nanny's backyard, however, Janie, as a naïve sixteen-year-old, finds the possibilities of love, sexuality, and identity that are available to her. This image, forever reverberating in her mind through two unsuccessful marriages to Logan Killicks and Joe Starks, is what keeps Janie's spirit alive and encourages her quest for love and life. "It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep" (10).
Under the pear tree on that spring afternoon, Janie sees sensuality wherever she looks. "The first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously" (10). Gazing across the garden...
... middle of paper ...
...ots her memory, the blossoms her dreams, and the branches her vision. After each unsuccessful marriage, she waits for the springtime pollen to be sprinkled over her life once again. Even after Tea Cake's death, she has a garden of her own to sit and revel in.
Appiah, K.A. and Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. eds. Zora Neale Hurston: Critical Perspectives Past and Present. New York: Amistad Press, Inc., 1993.
Bond, Cynthia. "Language, Sign, and Difference in Their Eyes Were Watching God." Appiah and Gates 204-17.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1990.
Wright, Richard. "Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)." Appiah and Gates 16.
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