Their Eyes Were Watching God: Culminating Essay Prompt #5
Throughout her timeless masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston employs a myriad of symbolic elements to assist in the establishment and understanding of Janie’s identity as a character. Although the types of symbolism used throughout both the novel and the movie vary greatly, they effectively convey Janie’s development. A few of these symbols include Janie’s hair, the pear tree, Janie’s use of firearms, and Janie’s various marriages. Collectively these symbols serve to build up Janie’s dynamic character and display to the reader what she truly aims to achieve.
A recurring symbol which is vital to the understanding of Janie’s identity is the pear tree and her experiences whilst laying under it. Janie uses her experiences under the pear tree to shape her expectations of life and relationships. In what is almost a state of decadence and deep thought, Janie realizes that her hopes in a relationship are not that of one holding absolute power, but instead true equality between two individuals. This moment of realization is evidenced in the following quote from the novel “She…show more content… When she first begins to speak to Tea Cake, he invites her to play checkers with him, something she was never allowed to do before. The game of checkers serves as a symbol of Tea Cake viewing Janie as his equal, as opposed to her previous marriages. Janie feels as if she has finally found a relationship that bears semblance to the pear tree, as she seems to be treated as an equal by her partner. The piano bought by Joe, is eventually used by Tea Cake to teach Janie to play it. The piano went from being nothing but a display of Joe’s wealth, to a significant symbol of Janie’s growth as a character and her relationship with Tea Cake. Not only is the pear tree a symbol of Janie’s ideals, but it is also a symbol of her growth as a