Their Eyes Were Watching God

The Multiple Meanings of "Their" in Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God 10th Grade

In Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Hurston leaves part of the title ambiguous and therefore open to interpretation. Throughout the novel, the characters mention or allude to God, or a “god.” The multiple meanings of the word “God” allow the word “their” to have multiple meanings. This pronoun in the title refers to both the people of Eatonville and African-Americans due to their looking up to Joe Starks and God, respectively, who are both higher authorities.

In the novel, the people of Eatonville are watching Joe because of his godlike nature. The townspeople are shown to be watching Joe when he publicly snubs Janie after she is asked to make a speech. The townspeople recognize Joe’s godlike persona, which he has exhibited through his development of Eatonville, and for this reason they fear him. Their reluctance to criticize Joe for not letting his wife speak, though they would like to hear her, shows the power he has amassed. Additionally, no one objects to Joe’s humiliation of Janie because they are all too busy watching Joe and what he has to say. Therefore, when he says Janie should not speak, they simply accept his statement and continue listening to their “god.” This also shows how moldable the minds of...

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