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Symbolism In Zora Neale Hurston'S Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Their Eyes Were Watching God is a powerful and motivating literary work. Chronicling a young woman's journey through life, the novel speaks to not only women, but all people who experience strife in their lifetimes. A novel filled with inner and outer struggles, and having the strength to overcome those hardships, author Zora Neale Hurston constructs a novel not just for the common-man, but for the every-man. Throughout the novel, Hurston's mix of blatant and obscure symbolism to weave her tale, add to the novel's powerful impact.

The most prominent symbol in the novel may not be the most out rightly obvious one: Janie's journey. As she ventures from Eatonville, to the marshes of Florida and back to Eatonville again in a search for "spiritual fulfillment", her journey is a self-centered one. At each location Janie experiences a different aspect of life. Each situation and location offers and new sense of growth for Janie to experience and struggles to overcome. Her journey symbolizes a personal, inner spiritual growth and emotional growth that cannot be gained but through these experiences. Her endeavors help her to realize things about love, marriage, independence, being a woman in society, being a black woman in society, life, and death. Her travels bring Janie "full circle at the beginning and end" of the novel, as Janie returns to Eatonville to retell her story to her friend Pheoby. She has grown enough to realize that her tale is one of triumph and pride.

Janie's growth is also due to marriage; not just a single marriage, but three. Her first marriage is to a black farmer named Logan Killicks, arranged by her grandmother in order to help Janie be well taken care of in life. This marriage symbolizes Janie's true desire to have "a marriage based on love", which her marriage to Logan clearly is not. It offers her simply a protective affection, much like that of the relationship she shared with her grandmother. While he treats her like the property he owns, the marriage represents Janie's desire for a marriage based on true love and not simply protective affection. Janie realizes that love does exist in life and in marriage, and she will not experience it while she is with Logan. When Joe Starks catches her eye on the road one day, Janie is swept up in the idea of what could be, leaving her first marriage behind, and signaling a transition to another chapter of Janie's life.

Janie's marriage to Joe Starks symbolizes something more than a mere desire for love. Janie is attracted to Joe's image of the man he portrays himself to be. Joe much resembles Janie's subconscious desire to marry a man much like that of the "white master of the house that she has grown up knowing" (the slave owner). She runs away with Joe because he seems to be everything Janie wants in life. He offers her an escape from the protective love that she had with Logan, and Janie feels that for the first time she may be able to obtain real love. Joe treats Janie as a mere object: an object of almost-Caucasian beauty, but scarcely anything further than a trophy wife. Janie is be observed, and acknowledged, but not spoken to or for; merely an ornament



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