Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Coming-of-Age, African-American Literature
Basically, we follow Janie for her whole life. Early on we discover exactly what motivates her – the quest for true love – and for the rest of the novel we follow her exploits in her pursuit of this goal. Janie’s first two failed marriages rob her of her innocence, but this is an essential step towards achieving womanhood and maturity. Only by painfully discovering what love is not can Janie finally recognize true love for what it is in her relationship with Tea Cake. Thus, adulthood is defined by suffering, learning lessons from that suffering, and using that knowledge to move forward towards one’s goal. By the time she returns to Eatonville, Janie has imbibed a good deal of wisdom from her experiences to impart to Pheoby.