Study Guide

Pheoby Watson in Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston

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Pheoby Watson

Pheoby Watson is Janie’s best friend and confidante. The entire book is actually the narration of Janie’s life story as told to Pheoby—in theory, without Pheoby's character listening, there would be no story.

Janie values Pheoby for her open ear and nonjudgmental attitude. She's exactly the conduit Janie needs to vent her feelings about Joe Starks, marriage, and Tea Cake. Pheoby, unlike much of Eatonville, defends Janie’s actions and takes a very modern stand—that Janie is her own woman and has a good reason behind all of her actions.

As a friend, Pheoby’s faith is inspiring and probably influences us as readers to see Janie in a positive light. However, Pheoby’s most important function is as a mirror to us. We, as listeners, go along with her on the journey of Janie’s life. Vocab lesson: this type of character—one who listens as the protagonist tells a story—is sometimes called a narratee.

Pheoby Watson in Their Eyes Were Watching God Study Group

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