Study Guide

Their Eyes Were Watching God Jealousy

By Zora Neale Hurston

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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 hurt or take revenge on the object of desire. This spite can manifest itself in bitter words aimed to injure, unfounded rumors, plain falsehoods, confinement, or physical violence.

Often, jealousy is unvoiced, but its presence can be fathomed by the bestial terms in which the narrator immerses the jealous character. The idea is that jealousy strips one of his reason and humanity, rendering him animalistic and base. Jealousy can lead to blind hate if allowed to fester long enough.

Questions About Jealousy

  1. Many people are jealous of Janie throughout the novel. Of what specifically are they jealous?
  2. Is there a relationship between jealousy and hatred? How does it function?
  3. Does the jealousy of Janie’s husbands guard her? How is their jealousy different? Does jealousy necessarily come along with love? Is it evidence of love or evidence of the opposite?

Chew on This

In their most jealous or base moments, characters are often depicted as animals to emphasize that jealousy is inhumane.

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