Their Eyes Were Watching God Essay Assignment

Summary and Analysis

This their eyes were watching god essay paper offers a summary and analysis of the book. It will give an insight into the themes, the structure of the book, the roles of the different characters, symbolism, and motifs used by Zora Neale.

There are quite a variety of their eyes were watching god essay questions that one will encounter relating to the different aspects of the book. They will have to be analyzed and answered critically. It is pertinent to have a thorough comprehension of the book and the different literal tools employed by the author.


Throughout the essay, there is the use of imagery to advance the plot of the story. Examples of instances where imagery has been used include The horizon, Janie's hair, the pear tree and the hurricane. There are a couple of their eyes were watching god symbolism essay, focused on specifically these symbols.

What do these symbols represent?

The hurricane: When nature glares its destruction upon the world, it displays its ability to cause chaos, destruction and cause our lives to turn upside down. Even in today's society, hurricanes have been known to cause so much destruction. Such moments also lead people to question their role in the world and who they are as individuals.

The Horizon and Pear tree: Although there are times when nature can display a mighty show of wrath, its beauty cannot go unnoticed. In this particular instance, the author Zora Neale Hurston uses the horizon to reflect Janie's senses of oneness with nature and finally being at peace. The pear tree, on the other hand, represents the beauty that can be found in nature.

Janie's hair: Her hair reflects her strength and defiance to conform to society's standards. She was not going to let them dictate her level of happiness, and how she attained fulfillment in life. Their eyes were watching god theme essay will highlight in detail these pieces of imagery and what they reflect.


Their eyes were watching god literary analysis essay focuses on the structure of the novel in general. The author, Zora Hurston, when writing their eyes were watching God, gives the novel a unique structure. The novel starts and ends with Janie and Phoeby sitting on the front porch. The novel is divided into distinct sections that are referred to as frames. Each frame focuses on a specific period of Janie's life. The other structural aspect is the fact that the novel is being narrated from a third party point, and that the third party can relate to Janie's life. It is written in the past tense.


A variety of motifs have been used in different places in the novel. This is a quest to advance the themes of the novel. While writing their eyes were watching god theme essay, one will encounter a number of motifs. God plays a part in the plot as indicated by the title "Their Eyes Were Watching God". God, in this case, refers to a supreme being who has control over nature. Another motif is the issue of race and racism. Although because the author was black, the assumption was the book was centered on racism considering an issue during that era. The other motif highlighted was the community and the role it plays in creating connections and developing our independence and individuality. Janie's life reflects on how all the three factors have impacted her.


Their eyes were watching god essay summary and analysis reveals a list of characters whose roles have had a hand in developing the story. The main character, who is also the main protagonist Janie Crawford, is beautiful and yet confident black woman who the novel revolves around. Other characters who had played a significant role include:

Janie's Nanny: In an effort to protect Janie from the harsh life of slavery and hardships, she marries her off to Logan Killicks.

Logan Killicks: Janie's first husband. He did not treat her well.

Joe Starks: The stranger Janie flirted with for weeks before eventually running off with him and finally getting married to each other for two decades. He too was not kind to Janie.

Tea Cup: Third husband to Janie. He was younger than her.

Phoeby: The woman who defends Janie from community gossipers, and the one she narrates her story to.

All of Janie's husbands contributed to her finally attaining spiritual growth and independence. She, however, did not let them kill her dreams. Their eyes were watching god essay will often discuss the matter in detail especially is it centered on the impacts each of the husbands had on her.


The background setting of the novel plays a critical role in developing the plot of the novel. The novel is expressed to have occurred in rural Florida, around the 1920s to 1930s. This information is crucial to understanding the community in which she lived in and the principles that they held. Their eyes were watching god essay analysis on the community reveals a society that is conservative in nature and passes harsh judgment on those who against their norms and standards.


Their eyes were watching god essay topics all focus on the different themes, symbols, characters and motifs utilized by the author. Aspects that arise include racism, community and feminism. Finding your voice as a woman is crucial. Their eyes were watching god feminism essay reveals how the community feels about feminism in general.

Note: these activity ideas are best used throughout a unit of study on Their Eyes Were Watching God.

What’s in a name?

In this activity, students will analyze the title of the book: Their Eyes Were Watching God. Ask your students to take the title word-by-word. Students should use passages from the novel to support their answer. Use the following guiding questions with students who need additional assistance:

  • Why is the first word plural when it’s a story about one woman? Why did Zora Neale Hurston decide to use the word "their"? What can you infer?
  • What are "they" watching?
  • Where does God fit into this story?

The Writing Process

Instruct your student to watch the Their Eyes Were Watching God video. Next, tell them to think about how Zora Neale Hurston describes her writing process and record at least three observations from the video. Ask students to share their findings with the class. Then, ask students to think about their own writing process and answer the following questions:

  • What is your writing process?
  • How do you relate to Hurston’s process?
  • What do you do that’s different?
  • What have you learned from Hurston's process that you might consider incorporating into your own writing?

Free Indirect What?

In this video, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. discusses Zora Neale Hurston’s use of free indirect discourse. Tell students you’re going to explore what this term means in further detail.

Distribute the Free Indirect Discourse in Their Eyes Were Watching God handout. Discuss with your students the information in the handout. You may need to provide additional examples of each type of speech.

Once students have an understanding of each type of speech, have them locate and record examples of direct, indirect and free indirect speech from the novel in their handout.

Janie’s Fellas

Distribute the Janie’s Fellas handout. Instruct your students to look at the men in Janie’s life and ask them to dig deeper into what these men tell us about her as a person—what motivates her when she meets them, what she’s like when she’s with them, what she values, etc.

Encourage students to share their responses with the class. Then, tell students to write an essay describing how Janie’s growth and evolution is influenced by the men in her life.

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