«Their Eyes Were Watching God» Analysis: Apropos of the Horizon


“Their Eyes Were Watching God” Analysis

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Apropos of the Horizon

The 1937 novel from Zora Neale Hurston was a work of literature replete with symbolism and metaphors that drives through a number of significant moments in the life of the main character named Janie Crawford, an African-American woman in her early forties, who is narrating the story to a friend by way of extensive flashbacks.

One such symbol, the “horizon,” is frequently mentioned throughout the narrative and is undoubtedly the most paramount and essential of all the other symbols or metaphors in the novel.

So what was the “horizon?” The best way to get an answer is to gather excerpts containing the word “horizon.”

In the first chapter, the main character Janie says, “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by time” (Hurston,1937). This did not shed any light on the meaning for the word was used in a literal sense. So I had to dig deeper.

Then, in chapter four, I read, “Janie pulled back a long time because he did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees, but he spoke for far horizon” (Hurston,1937). This part about her second but not indefinite husband finally shed light on the meaning.

So, what the “horizon” represented was the essence of Janie Crawford and what impels her to seek out her desire in life which is unraveled quite at an unhurried pace as she conveys her story to her friend Pheoby Watson one period at a time. The prize. The possibility.

Works Cited

Hurston, Zora Neale, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” September 18, 1937. Print.
Johnson, Mary V., “The World in a Jug and the Stopper in [Her] Hand: Their Eyes Were Watching God as Blues Performance,” Autumn, 1998. Review.

Shmoop Editorial Team. “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 4 Oct. 2017.

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