Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 20 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Janie mounted the stairs with her lamp. The light in her hand was like a spark of sun-stuff washing her face in fire. (20.11)
Janie is so immersed in thoughts of Tea Cake, her son of Evening Sun, that she thinks of the lamp in her hand as a spark from her love, lighting her face and her path so that she can see.
[Janie]: "Dey gointuh make ‘miration ‘cause mah love didn’t work lak they love, if dey ever had any. Then you must tell ‘em dat love ain’t somethin’ lak uh grindstone dat’s de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore." (20.7)
Janie lectures Pheoby that love is not a fixed thing that is the same for everyone who experiences it. Instead it is as fluid and changing as the sea, only shaped by the shores (or men) it meets. Society has a normative and inflexible idea of what love is, when actual love is different for everyone.
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. (20.12)
Both Janie’s innocence and maturity are represented here in the image of the horizon. As an innocent child, Janie always chased her horizons. Here at the end, she has both worshipped her horizons from afar and traveled them so she has the capacity to "pull it from around the waist of the world and drape it over her shoulder," without complete ignorance but also without cynicism. Now she can just marvel and cherish all the life snared in its meshes and relive her many full memories.