Their Eyes Were Watching God was published in 1937 and to this day is still a notable piece of literature. The novel faced lots of controversy when it was first published from both blacks and whites. African-Americans did not feel that the book accurately portrayed the harsh life and conditions blacks faced at those times, and whites thought it was used as a civil rights movement. Through all the backlash and hate, Hurston was able to power through with her book making it her magnum opus, and still being relevant after 80 years.
Their Eyes Were Watching God has an immense use of imagery, being able to describe everything as if you are right there along with her. What makes her work so profound is her use of imagery comes with lots of symbolism. The peartree, horizon, sky, and sun are each uniquely described and have their own meaning correlating with the theme and message of the book.
The pear tree along with the sky and bees have lots of special meaning to Janie, because it was her first experience of sexual awakening prior to her first kiss. While under the pear tree in chapter 2 Janie first starts romanticising about the perfect love and marriage, and from there on Janie just longs for that perfect relationship and affection. While under the pear tree she stares up into the sky and notices the bees gathering pollen and mentions about her own “glossy leaves and bursting buds meaning her mind had opened up to new things like her sexuality.
The pear tree contributes to the theme because throughout the book Janie battles with finding the love she longs for and to not feel empty, but in the gets through it only relying on herself. The horizon is mentioned various times throughout the book too and the Janie is symbolized all the opportunities and goals, which for her was real romance, sexual satisfaction, and a loving marriage. Janie first mentioned the horizon in ch. 1 Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by time.
That is the life of men. Janie struggled to reach the horizon going through two men thinking they could give her what she wanted. It is not until Janie meets Tea Cake that she finally reaches the horizon becoming content with life. The sun had two different meanings, but that correlated with each other and Tea Cake. When you are someoner’s sunshine you are their happiness and bring lots of positivity to them. That is exactly what Tea Cake did to Janie, he finally made her happy with life. The sun was also used as giving a new day since the sun rises and sets everyday. The sun added to the theme of life goes on and it is exactly what Janie had to realize. When Tea Cake died Janie was hurt, but she continued on remembering him and the sunshine he gave her.
Their Eyes Were Watching God is filled with symbolism and imagery such as the pear tree, sky and bees meaning Janier’s image of romance and the marriage she dreamed of. The horizon was all the opportunities in life which seemed so difficult to achieve to Janie, but she eventually did. The sun, is what gave Janie her happiness which was Tea Cake, and after his death it continues. Each symbol added onto the theme of how Janie struggled to find what she wanted, the opportunities, and once reached Janie finally realized she was actually happy with herself. The novel shows how much self love and worth is vital, instead of forcing others to make you not feel alone and never being happy in life.