Dialectical Journal for “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston.
Dialectical Journal: Their Eyes Were Watching God 1. “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.
That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly. ”(1)This quote starts the book and essentially institutes the novels theme of, what most people say is, feminism, although the author is showing how the fundamentals of men and woman are different. It’s saying how men and woman need each other to basically feel completed, quenching the needs of each by using the other. Throughout the novel, Janie is continually looking for the man that complements her and fulfills her needs.
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Janie also acts accordingly to this quote, fighting and struggling to follow her dreams. 2. The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God. ” (160) Basically, this quote is the heart of the novel; humans against God. This shows the struggle of Janie and the others, united because of the storm, which provides refuge against nature, and also human nature.
. “She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a evelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid. ” (11) This quote marks the beginning of Janie’s spiritual awakening. The bee flying into the flower symbolizes love to Janie, that one moment of lasting fulfillment.
The union of the flower and the bee gives each of them something needed and desired. Throughout the novel, Janie searches for this sort of love. 4. “She was a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels. ” (76)This quote symbolizes Janie’s struggle to find the love that she is seeking even with something blocking her path. For a while, when she was with Jody, her spirit was beaten down, and “The years took all the fight out of Janie’s face.
”(76) She still holds on to that first image of love she had when she was 16, and is still determined to find it. But, her loss of innocence results in the loss of her voice. 5. “She had been getting ready for her great journey to the horizons in search of people; it was important to all the world that she should find them and they find her.But she had been whipped like a cur dog, and run off down a back road after things. ” (89) This quote explains the toughness of Janie’s journey, and also the obstacles she has hurdled, such as her mother, her grandmother, Logan, and then Jody, in order to regain her quest to find that love she first saw when she was young. She was falsely directed in the wrong direction, a direction towards things instead of people when she was with Jody.
He tried to win her love with things (this also shows the theme of materialism) instead of himself. . “Once having set up her idols and built altars to them it was inevitable that she would worship there. It was inevitable that she should accept any inconsistency and cruelty from her deity as all good worshippers do from theirs. . All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason.
Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers.Real gods require blood. ” (145) Mrs. Turners worship of Caucasian characteristics puts her with the men whose ships “sail forever on the horizon.
” This passage also relates to Janie and how her life journey requires her to suffer with two husbands, kill the third, and survive a hurricane. But Janie knows that suffering is not the end. She endures it so she may live the fullness of life, and the good that comes with the bad. 7. “’Listen, Sam, if it was nature, nobody wouldn’t have tuh look out for babies touchin’ stoves, would they? Cause dey just naturally wouldn’t touch it. But dey sho will. So it’s caution.
’ ‘Naw it ain’t, it’s nature, cause nature makes caution. It’s de strongest thing dat God ever made, now. Fact is it’s de onliest thing God every made. He made nature and nature made everything else. ’” (64-65) This dialogue between Sam and Lige speaks to Janie’s understanding of the world. Sam and Lige speak about nature and God, essentially, “nature vs. nurture”.
8. “This was the first time it happened, but after a while it got so common she ceased to be surprised.It was like a drug. In a way it was good because it reconciled her to things. She got so she received all things with the stolidness of the earth which soaks up urine and perfume with the same indifference. ” (77) In the awful situation that Janie is living in, she seems to protect a degree of her innocence by imagining other things, things that she likes or wants or even needs, away from Jody and her daily life. 9.
“Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net.Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see. ” (193) Janie’s innocence and maturity are represented with the horizon. When she is pulling it from the world onto her shoulders she is cherishing her life and memories. 10.
“It was so crazy digging worms by lamp light and setting out for Lake Sabelia after midnight that she felt like a child breaking rules. That’s what made Janie like it. They caught two or three and got home just before day.Then she had to smuggle Tea Cake out by the back gate and that made it seem like some great secret she was keeping from the town. ” (102) When Janie is with Tea Cake it reminds her of all the enjoyable times when she was younger, before her previous marriages. This is also one reason why Janie falls in love with Tea Cake; he is fun loving, and he brings back her innocence. He himself is the embodiment of innocence.
Janie’s Life Story All throughout Janie’s like she is searching for the love and innocence she first sees when she is lying under the pear tree.At that moment when she was 16, it was a sort of spiritual and sexual awakening for her. For her first two marriages she sought the love she wanted but to no avail. But after the death of Jody, Janie meets Tea Cake which to her unveils the innocence she had hidden away for so long. Unfortunately, at the end of the novel, Janie ends up having to shoot her beloved Tea Cake out of self-defense. The story is told by Janie herself, when she gets home after the death of Tea Cake, she tells her life story to her friend Phoeby.