Suggested Essay Questions
- Analyze Hurston's personification of Death and of Doubt. Why does she capitalize these two abstract concepts?
- Consider Janie's three husbands seperately. What distinguishes them from one another? What do characteristics do they share?
- How does the mule's treatment in Eatonville reflect the condition of the black female? Does Joe's gesture of buying him have symbolic value?
- How does the porch work as a personified symbol? Trace its use throughout the novel.
- Does this novel have a moral? What attitudes does Hurston prescribe towards race? Money? Family?
- Is Nanny a sympathetic character? Is Janie's abandonment of her justified?
- At what point does the division between men's activities and women's activities break down? Which activities where formerly designated as male activities?
- Why did Hurston include Mrs. Turner in the novel? Were Tea Cake and his friends' attack on her cafe justified?
- Who does the pronoun in the title refer to? Janie and Tea Cake? African-Americans in general? Explain how the title relates to the content of the novel.
- Is Hurston's vision of God religious or secular? Do her characters view him as merciful or vengeful?
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