Symbol Chart

Created by Hannah Gerry

SYMBOL

EXPLANATION

EVOLVES/REOCCURES

(if applicable)

RANKING/IMPORTANCE

(according to creativity)

RANKING QUALIFICATIONS

THE HORIZON

The horizon represents the mystery of the future. The “unknown.” Janie continually looks to the horizon, in search of more. When Tea Cake dies she gazes at the horizon, wondering what else it holds for her. Janie is longing to find the “unknown.”

The horizon as a symbol reoccurs the most. There are many times that Janie gazes toward the horizon in search of hope, answers and peace. The novel starts with an image of the horizon and it ends with one as well. In every stage of Janie’s life, (child, Logan, Jody, Tea Cake, alone) there is an image of the horizon.

10

The horizon is the most important symbol in Their Eyes Were Watching God. It occurs the most often, and more importantly, it is the most important to Janie. She looks to it for her wisdom and guidance. Throughout the whole novel Janie is seeking after it, trying to obtain it.

10 = the best symbol, greatest importance, extremely creative, strong connection with main character.

5= the symbol is pretty creative, occurs a few times and has a good connection with the main character.

0= the symbol is not very creative, occurs only once and does not have a connection with the main character.

THE PEAR TREE

The pear tree represents Janie’s sexuality. When she was sitting under the pear tree, that is when she saw the young man walk pass and she felt the urge to kiss him. She was also sitting under the pear tree when she came to the decision to run away with Jody. The pear tree represents what Janie thinks a marriage/love should be like. It should be alive and very much in-tune to its surroundings.

The pear tree only appears only twice. At the beginning of the novel, Janie as a young girl, and at the end of the novel, Janie as a mature and aged woman. At the beginning of the novel, it is a newfound experience stirring new emotions in Janie. And at the end of the novel, Janie reflects back upon the pear tree, coming a full circle in understanding and contentment.

6

The pear tree only appears twice in the novel, but Janie does have a strong connection to it. It is what causes Janie to go on her journey for love. It is definitely a very creative symbol of love, emotion and sexuality.

JANIE’S HAIR

Janie’s hair is a symbol of her power and where she holds her identity. She believes that her hair is her best feature. When Jody had her tie

up her hair, she felt lost and incomplete, like she was not within herself. Once Jody died, she let down her hair and burned her hair wraps. She felt powerful and liked to express her individuality with her hair.

Janie’s hair is obviously in the entire novel, but it is known as a symbol only a few times. When she was a young girl, she would wear her hair down and feel free because of it. In her marriage to Jody, he made her tie it up in rags. She felt tied up as well. Once Jody dies she begins wearing her hair down again feeling herself open. At the end of the novel she is still wearing her hair down, aware of her connection with it.

8

Janie’s hair as a symbol is very important, and evolves in many different ways throughout the novel. Janie feels and understands how her hair impacts her. It is creative to have a body part as a symbol.

THE HURRICANE

The hurricane represents destruction and God’s power. It shows how damaging the world can be, but how much hope and restoration it brings afterward. This is where the title of the novel comes in. Their Eyes Were Watching God once the hurricane was about to destroy. They were seeking Him and searching for answers to the destruction He was about to allow.

The hurricane does not reoccur or evolve in any way, it is a single event. It does however act as the rising action toward the climax.

2

A hurricane is a common symbol for destruction and power. It does connect to Janie because it causes Tea Cake to be bit by the rabid dog, which ultimately makes her shoot him. It occurs only once in the novel.

THE MULE/DONKEY

The mule represents Janie and women in general. She was continually put down and emotionally “kicked and slapped.” Women during the 1930’s were thought as useless, that they could put nothing forward. Janie steps in to defend the mule recognizing the similarities.

The mule as a symbol does evolve. When it is first seen, it is an object of ridicule and criticism. However, when it dies there is an elaborate funeral and party. It “occurs” only once in the novel.

4

Having an animal represent Janie and women in general is creative. However, it only occurs once in the novel. It does have a strong connection with Janie because it is representing her and she feels for the mule.

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