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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

  

by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God Themes

Their Eyes Were Watching God Themes

Gender

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, men and women occupy very different roles. Women are not only considered the weaker sex, but they're fundamentally defined by their relationship to men. This is why...

Love

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, idealized romantic love is the protagonist’s ultimate goal. She battles against the commonly held view of love as unimportant and frivolous (compared to respectab...

Sex

Sex triggers the protagonist's interest in love; Janie is fascinated by both the bodily pleasure triggered by sex as well as its implications for new life and spiritual union. The protagonist’s v...

Innocence

Innocence is closely linked to youth, idealism, and—to a lesser extent—virginity. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, reference to the protagonist’s innocence almost always evokes nature imagery...

Race

In addition to the basic premise that racism holds white men as inherently superior to blacks, the narrator presents the oppressed minority as a community whose constituents internalize and often p...

Fate and Free Will

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, fate is synonymous with God and nature...while a person’s free will has much to do with his decisions and his faith. Ambitious or powerful men try to take their d...

Society and Class

Social class is often closely tied to one’s material wealth. However, Their Eyes Were Watching God seems to draw an inverse relationship between one’s social class and one’s morality. The poo...

Freedom and Confinement

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, slavery isn't just in the past. Not only does the trauma continue to reverberate, but it serves as the founding idea on which other jailer-prisoner power structures...

Language and Communication

Dialogue in Their Eyes Were Watching God is transcribed phonetically to capture the cadence and idioms of black vernacular. The protagonist is especially concerned with the sincerity behind words a...

Jealousy

Jealousy is an ugly beast (with famous green eyes) that affects men, women, and communities at large. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, jealousy ranges from simple envy to an obsessive desire to hur...

Appearances

Beauty can be defined both internally and externally—and external beauty is comprised only of socially acceptable standards of attractiveness, sexual or otherwise. For the most part, it’s uncle...

Mortality

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, death is presented as both the traditional ending of a life and a cause for grief. However, it also has a positive connotation; death isn't merely an end but also t...

Pride

Two types of pride are present in Their Eyes Were Watching God—a negative interpretation that has the connotations of hubris and conceit and a positive version as dignity. Hubris is often linked...

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...

Memory and the Past

Whether you heed the advice of a dating listicle or Freud, you know that it's true: if you want to truly know someone, you need to know about their memories and their pasts. The entire story contai...

Compassion and Forgiveness

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, compassion is unconditional sympathy for all manner of people, no matter what their flaws. Special attention is paid to how people treat "helpless things," entities...

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