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Their Eyes Were Watching God

  1. In Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie Crawford goes on a journey of self-discovery. What does she learn or achieve or fail to learn or fail to achieve on this journey? How do the stylistic devices or choices Hurston makes help the reader better understand Janie’s journey?
  2. Establish a central theme of the novel. How does Hurston’s stylistic devices or choices establish/reveal/compliment (your chosen theme)?
  3. Hurston uses nature –the pear tree, the ocean, the horizon, the hurricane –not only as a plot device but also as metaphor. How do these metaphors help us understand Janie’s journey? Do the metaphors indicate the success or failure of Janie’s journey? You may analyze all, some, or one of these metaphors.
  4. Reread the last chapter of the novel and the first page of the novel: Pick out specific word choices (diction), images, or metaphors that Hurston returns to at the end. Do a close reading of the text. What is the significance of the ending –does it end on despair, triumph, or a mixture of both?


Please choose a topic and develop a thesis statement; each thesis should include a what, how, and why:

What? the theme you are developing in the paper

How? Hurston’s literary device(s)and/or stylistic technique(s) that you believe help to develop the theme

Why? Level 3: Go beyond the novel and think BIG PICTURE. Why does this novel and, in particular, your chosen topic matter? Why is it significant? What concept or idea makes this worthy to think about? Why should the reader care? What makes this novel so valued? (Unlike The Crucible, which is an allegory about human nature, Their Eyes Were Watching God is situated in a distinct cultural context: a story told by a black woman struggling for independence in the Jim Crow era.

Keep that in mind as you develop your “why” in the thesis). Also, don’t be afraid to bust out a semicolon and start a new sentence for the “why” part of your thesis statement. This part of your thesis might include wording like “ultimately revealing that……” or “demonstrates that …..” This part is surely argumentative because this is what makes your thesis special and unique –it should be debatable but based on evidence.

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