The Quest for Affection in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The Quest for Affection in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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“Love is like the sea. It's a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it's different with every shore.” The main character in Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie Crawford, possesses a seemingly unquenchable thirst for affection, and does not rest until she finds the man who is able to offer her the love she desires and believes to deserve. Janie defines love as a fluid force that is different with every man, and transforms with changing circumstances. Janie does not care to be wealthy, or to have high social standing; she wishes to be submerged in a sea of tenderness and to swim through waters of passion, and to be caressed by captivating waves of lust. Her idealistic conception of love and the corresponding desire for it developed from her sixteen-year-old obsession with a bee pollinating a pear blossom in the back yard of her grandmother’s house.
“She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid.” This occurrence undeniably introduces Janie sensually to sex and builds the romantic ideal which Janie’s future lovers must live up to in order to satisfy her. This passage does not describe simple sex, but displays loving intimacy. The pollinated bee careful...


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...h and every chair and thing. Commenced to sing, commenced to sob to sigh, singing and sobbing. Then Tea Cake came prancing around her where she was and the song of the sigh flew out of the window and lit in the top of the pine trees. Tea Cake, with the sun for a shawl. Of course he wasn’t dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace.” Janie lay in her bed reminiscing and is convinced that Tea will stay in her memory until the day she dies, after that day she will be together with him again – together with Tea Cake in heaven. The emptiness in Janie that was present in her before she left town with Tea Cake has subsided. Due to the love of Tea Cake let her know, Janie is now complete, the bee has nurtured the flower, and allowed it to grow.

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