Their Eyes Were Watching God

Community and Identity

Over the course Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie resides in several communities, each of which play an important role in the story, and serve as essential influences on Janie's life. At different stages in her life, Janie lives with her Nanny, in Eatonville, and in the muck. The presence of these different communities in Hurston's writing contributes to Janie as a character, and also enhances the story by playing the part of either antagonist or protagonist.

Until Janie reaches her late teens, she lives with her grandmother in a community inhabited by black and white people. This community only serves as an antagonist to Janie, who does not seem to fit into the society in any respect. Race plays a large factor in Janie being an outcast, as she is black, but has lighter skin than all the other black people. As a child, Janie does not even realize that she is actually black until she is pointed out in a photograph among a group of white children. After growing up confused about her identity, Janie struggles with conflicting thoughts about love and marriage. As a young adult, Janie envisions a pear tree that represents love and the relationship she desires: "I want things sweet wid...

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