Their Eyes Were Watching God

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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"Two passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, and the search for knowledge..." -Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970), Autobiography Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Report It is these shared passions by all of humanity that brings together the naive and the experienced in an effort to convey the human spirit. Throughout the course of the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston discusses how her main protagonist, Janie Crawford, adheres to these passions in her quest for self-identity in a world in which there is one overriding factor working against her, her sex. And yet, despite whatever challenges she was faced with, in the end, Janie finds herself through the genuine love of another.

Janie Crawford's initial exposure to love and marriage is slim at best, with her knowledge of herself only nominally better. As a child, she never truly understood that she is different until it is pointed out in a picture.

And that comes as a surprise, since "before [she] thought [she] wuz just like de rest"(9). Growing up around people who were not similar to her, nor able to empathize completely with her plight, Janie was left alone to find her own way and forge her own path. Her first attempts at finding herself were cut short early, as her experiment in kissing Johnny Taylor was cut short by her Nanny, and she was alone without anyone to talk to about the budding emotions within her. Her fascination with the blossoming pear tree is reflective of the blossoming within her, something that "stirred her immensely"(10), but was utterly alien, and utterly beautiful. And by the time she married Logan Killicks, she was utterly unprepared.

Janie never knew what love was, so she never knew what to...

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