Their Eyes Were Watching God Literary Analysis

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Throughout the novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, there is a constant battle between nature (how we feel life should be, and how we interpret our emotions) and nurture (how others tell us life should be and how we should interpret our emotions). In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie confronts what she has been “nurtured” by social teachings about what a proper relationship should be like, which often go against her own natural instincts. By choosing personal preference over social rules, she isolates herself socially but achieves a life where she is fulfilled emotionally. Through Janie, Hurston shows that no matter how much a person tries to fit in with society, if these social values do not align with your own, you will never stop seeking another life.…show more content…
Several symbols are used to show that Hurston prefers what comes naturally in life. The symbol of the horizon is repeatedly invoked throughout the novel. Janie expresses anger toward Nanny and the values and worldviews she taught Janie as a child. Specifically, Janie says that Nanny took the idea of the horizon and limited it "to such a little bit of a thing." In other words, Janie feels anger towards Nanny because of the way that she stifled Janie's sense of possibility and wonder in life for the purposes of imparting upon her granddaughter the importance of stability, "aid and assistance" from a man. This brings out Hurston’s idea that the nurturing that Nanny has given has caused anger, whereas something that comes natural, such as the horizon, which symbolizes the realm of the possible, is something she can dream
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