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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Gender

Men and women occupy very different roles. Women are not only considered the weaker sex but are fundamentally defined by their relationship to men. This is why marriage is such a big deal; women ca...

Love

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 respectab...

Sex

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

Innocence

Innocence is closely linked to youth, idealism, and – to a lesser extent – virginity. In this novel, 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 this text, 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 destinies into the...

Society and Class

Social class is often closely tied to one’s material wealth. However, the text seems to draw an inverse relationship between one’s social class and one’s morality. The poorer work...

Freedom and Confinement

Slavery serves as the founding idea on which smaller microcosms of jailer-prisoner power structures are built. In general, women are depicted as prisoners while men are their jailers. The instituti...

Language and Communication

Speech in this novel is transcribed phonetically to capture the spirit of the black vernacular; the poetic and metaphoric aspect of the dialect emerges most strongly in forms like tall tales, songs...

Jealousy

Jealousy is an ugly beast affecting men, women, and communities at large. In the novel, jealousy ranges from simple envy to an obsessive desire to hurt or take revenge on the object of desire. This...

Appearances

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

Mortality

In this novel, death is presented as both the traditional ending of a life and cause for grief. However, it also has a positive connotation; death is not merely an end, but the start of a new begin...

Pride

Two types of pride are present in this novel – a negative interpretation that has the connotations of hubris and conceit, and a positive version as dignity. Hubris is often linked to unfounde...

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

The protagonist’s hopes for her future drive the story of the novel. She has an image of true love and she strives to attain it. A person’s dreams for his or her future are often presen...

Memory and the Past

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 und...

Compassion and Forgiveness

In this book, 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 that cannot defend...

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