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Themes

In this novel, idealized romantic love is the protagonist’s ultimate goal. The protagonist battles against the commonly held view of love as unimportant and frivolous as compared to respectability and material security. The protagonist’s vision of true love is associated with innocence, openness, understanding, and equality between the lovers. Sex and marriage do not inherently lead to love, though they can be expressions of it. For the protagonist, love is also an essential part of life; without it, her spirit practically withers and dies. When love is restored, it’s like a fountain of youth. Having found love makes the protagonist feel that she has finally lived a full and satisfying life.

Questions About Love

  1. What does the episode with the bee and pear blossom represent for Janie? Why is it cited so many times in the book?
  2. How are Janie’s and Nanny’s views on love and marriage different? What does Janie expect from marriage and, conversely, what does Nanny settle for?
  3. Love seems to be what makes Janie’s life worth while. Why is it that we don’t see any other characters chasing after love?
  4. Did Logan love Janie? Did Joe?

Chew on This

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

Janie’s lifelong fascination with the bee and pear blossom proves problematic, often putting her in positions where her femininity can be victimized.

Though Janie comes across as a strong woman, she actually watches passively from the sidelines waiting for love to happen rather than acting to create love in her life and marriages.

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