A person’s memories and their past are essential in order to truly understand them. The entire book is the protagonist telling her life story to a friend so that her friend can accurately understand and judge her. Memory acts as a repository of past emotion and experiences which can later be drawn upon to trigger new understanding. By the end of the novel, memory has taken on a new significance as a way to reconcile oneself with death, through remembrances and commemoration of a loved one’s life.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, memory is not a fixed entity, but one that constantly changes in retrospect; Janie’s continuing experiences in life often change the ways she interprets old memories and occasionally forces her to recall memories she would not otherwise have remembered.