Their Eyes Were Watching God

The novel probably made use of numerous allusions and imagery to support, stress, and show that the writer has some knowledge of the Holy Writ. The styles behind this were most likely to align them with the title itself. In an attempt to systematically show the allusions and imagery I have gathered, I separated allusions from the imagery below.
IMAGERY
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.”
Perhaps this is the most powerful symbolism or imagery which is found in the first paragraph of the novel. Hurston was able to give a sneak peek at what Janie would want for her life as a free woman. This imagery also shows the journey of man`s life in just five sentences. While many may want their individual ships to reach the harbour, only a few or perhaps only one will attain their desire. The horizon also alludes to Janie`s desire to press on and continue going forward and travel new lands in spite of the many trials she will face.
2. “Represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees, but he spoke for far horizon,”
When Joe and Janie met, this was the imagery presented in the scene. Relevant to this is the reflection of Joe`s promises of fortune and Janie`s need to travel away to distant places thus she went away with Joe in the process.
3. “the great rope of black hair swinging to her waist and unraveling in the wind like a plume.”
This is the symbol for Janie`s hair showing her strength of sexuality and individuality.
4. “Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.”
The imagery is about Janie beginning to know of her sexuality and sexual epiphany. Janie is symbolized as a pear tree which is properly taken cared of may become healthy and spring for good fruit (success = DAWN) or if neglected and unprotected may wither and die (fail = DOOM) (Hurston, 2013).
BIBLICAL ALLUSIONS
1. An allusion of Isaac and Rebecca in Genesis 24:13-15. “at the well”
“Behold, I stand here by the well of water and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:
And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.”
2. Archangel Michael from Revelations 12: 7 – 8 “angel wid de sword”
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not neither was their place found any more in heaven.”
(Craddock, F & Tucker, G. Vol. 3)
3. Methusalem from Genesis 5:25 – 27 “old as Methusalem”
4. St. Paul, Saul, and David are mentioned separately in the novel for various purposes.
5. St. Peter from Matthew 29: 22 – 29 “walkin de water lak ole Peter”
Notice that the author intentionally used imagery and biblical allusions to entice readers from appreciating the piece. She didn`t hesitate. She didn`t yield. She didn`t even dare hide the styles and blatant use of other significant literary pieces in her novel (ANAPHORA). Instead, she didn`t waste time and made use of things, character, noteworthy names, figures, titles, and places to her advantage so that she will easily grab the reader`s attention and interest (COMPLEX SENTENCE). She used these items well (SIMPLE). The result was a wonderfully written novel and it has become one of the greatest literary pieces for African-Americans (COMPOUND SENTENCE). (DeCordova, Vol. 3).
What makes the novel unique is its attempt to empower women at the time to be of equal footing with men. The macho-effect presented by characters such as Joe Starks and Tea cake was merely icing to the cake the main purpose was to show how Janie can make the most out of each sticky situation and still remain victorious in the end (ASYNDETON). She may have had weaknesses especially when longing for company yet she was able to pursue her goal (COMPOUND SENTENCE). Notice how Janie, although she was often seem the victim in many circumstances in her life, she was able to will her decisions and eventually end up getting what she has always wanted. This is evident even in just the first few chapters of the novel when her Nanny wanted her to marry Logan Killicks but her to realization ended up with Joe Starks later to be Tea Cake`s sweetheart. The plot revolves around Janie who has the desire, will, and seemingly god-drawn luck to arrive at the “horizon” where she always wanted to be. Another aspect of the novel is about self-discovery (Wintz, 2010). One of the most important parts of humanity is individuality. If a person does not know who he really then there is no point for existence (FRAGMENT). This is what Janie wanted to do: to understand and know who she really is. And in the end following her return to Eatonville as a self-made woman, she ended the book with a line stating her journey, success, and peace: “Ah done been tuh de horizon and back and now Ah kin set heah in mah house and live by comparisons.” (Hurston, 2013).
REFERENCE:
Craddock, F & Tucker, G. “The Holy Bible.” Encarta Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation. (2009). Vol. 3.
DeCordova, M. “Zora Hurston.” Encarta Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation. (2009). Vol. 3.
Hurston, Z. (2013) “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” GradeSaver: Microsoft Corporation Inc.
< http://www.gradesaver.com/their-eyes-were-watching-god/study-guide/section1/
Wintz, C. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Novels for Students. Gale Group Publishing Inc. 2:31. (2010). Print.