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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God


by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God Theme of Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

The protagonist’s hopes for her future drive basically the entirety of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Janie has an image of true love, and she strives to attain it. A person’s dreams for his or her future are often presented as romantic and idealistic, symbolic of one’s naïve childhood. In this text, dreams also have lives of their own—coming into being, living, changing, and dying—with the experiences of the dreamer.

Questions About Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

  1. How does Janie’s experience under the pear tree set up her dreams and expectations for the future? How might she be characterized as naïve or idealistic at this stage in her life?
  2. Janie mentions the "deaths" of her dreams several times in the novel. What does she mean by this? And how do the deaths of these dreams modify her opinion of men and her expectations for the future?
  3. How do Janie’s visions and hopes for her future differ from the hopes of her peers? Why does she have such different goals for her future than other characters?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In this novel, women have idealistic dreams while men dream more realistically; for example, Janie never gives up on finding perfect, true love, while Logan’s and Joe’s lifelong goals focus on obtaining material wealth and power.

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