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Plants/Flowers

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

We know that your grandma refers to the Sex Talk (aka the Most Awkward Conversation You Ever Had With Your Parents) as "the birds and the bees."

But really, especially if your gram-gram has read Their Eyes Were Watching God, that idiom should be "the flowers and the bees."

Check out this hotter-than-Hades passage:

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid. (2.14)

Hot diggity dog. (That's another one of your grandma's expressions.)

This may be the single most erotically charged botanical scene in all of literature: the "ecstatic shiver of the tree," the "creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight," and the "pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid." This is borderline XXX stuff, guys.

Janie is not thinking about the kind of love that Disney movies endorse. There are no wedding dresses and moonlit carriage rides here: there's only pure s-e-x.

This is what Janie strives to find through three marriages—it's important to recognize, especially in a feminist reading of Their Eyes Were Watching God (um, is there any other way of reading TEWWG?), that Janie isn't all about material possessions, comfort, or even friendship. She wants something carnal and something respectful.

To which we say: go, Janie. Get it, gurl.

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