Their Eyes Were Watching God

Getting in Touch with the Feminine Side

In 1937, upon the first publication of Their Eyes Were Watching God, the most influential black writer of his time, Richard Wright, stated that the novel ìcarries no theme, no message, [and] no thought.î Wrightís powerful critique epitomized a nationís attitude toward Zora Neale Hurstonís second novel. African-American critics read a book that they felt satisfied the ìwhite manísî stereotype of African-American culture and the humor which Caucasians saw in that prejudice. However, those critics and most of America overlooked the wonderful use of imagery, symbolism, and thematic application of one African-American femaleís journey into womanhood and self-identification in a male-dominated society. Hurston introduced Janie Crawford, a strong, articulate, and dramatic character whose life was best empathized by women or by inhabitants of migrant farms and rural Black towns. Their Eyes Were Watching God is permeated with recurring symbols, such as a pear tree, a fence-gate, and Janieís hair, that enlighten a young girlís quest for self-fulfillment, as she discovers the true meaning of love and happiness through two failed marriages and one successful but tragic third.

The strongest symbol in Their Eyes Were Watching God is the pear...

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