Symbolism In Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Joelle Windmiller Their Eyes Were Watching God and Sexuality Their Eyes Were Watching God is in many ways a novel about the protagonist's sexual awakening. As it was written in the conservative early twentieth century, much of this sexuality is masked in metaphor. Zora Neale Hurston takes a naturalist approach to expressing sexuality in her book. The experience in which Janie attempts to make her first expression of love, Nanny resents her actions and proceeds to turn it into something to be ashamed of. After Nanny witnesses Johnny Taylor kiss Janie she scolds, “You just wants to hug and kiss and feel around with first one man and then another, huh?” (Page 13). In this quote, Nanny seems to be “slut shaming” Janie, and views her kiss as an …show more content…

Janie still strongly associates her views of sex with love, believing that the two must be linked. This is illustrated when Zora Neale Hurston gives us insight into Janie’s thought process by stating: “Yes, she would love Logan after they were married… Husbands and wives always loved each other, and that was what marriage meant.” (Page 21). Janie’s ingrained idea of the link between sex and love is very prominent here. It is interesting how Janie still has a romantic view of sex, even though her grandmother and mother were both raped. The protagonist sees sexuality as an expression of emotion, desire, beauty and affection. In complete contrast, many of the characters in the book view sexuality as something negative and to be ashamed of. They view it as dangerous, reckless, or as acts of dominance or violence. We see Janie trying to fight these perceptions throughout the book. Throughout the book, we see an idealistic view of love linked also very closely with innocence and youth. This is illustrated when Janie says, “‘Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think.”’ (Page 24). In this quote, Janie expresses her idealistic desires surrounding marriage. Her reference to the pear tree perpetuates the theme that we see in the novel of Janie’s youth, and perception of love, evoking a reference to

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