Elliot writes: what we call a beginning is often the end/ And to make an end
is to make a beginning./ The end is where we start from. In order to begin self
realization a person must first conquer a hindrance in their path.This idea is used to
portray the nature of Janies exploration in There Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora
Through the use of style, setting, and symbolism, the reader can interpret
that the beginning of ones self-fulfillment comes from successfully overcoming ones
Throughout the novel Hurston utilizes the horizon as a symbol representing
Janies dreams in order to reveal the realizations she comes to which enable her to start
her self fulfillment. At one point while she is married to Logan Killicks, Janie realizes
something about her marriage to Logan Killicks; She knew that God tore down the old
world every evening and built a new one by sun-up. It was wonderful to see it take form
with the sun and emerge from the gray dust of its making. She knew now that marriage
did not make love.
Janies first dream was dead, so she became a woman.(25) Janie had
expected marriage to grow into love, but her dream did not come to be. Hurston
compares Janies unfulfilled dream to how the sun rises above the horizon every morning
to a new day- the sun shedding light on the her dream (or horizon). The purpose of this
being to expose the importance of revelation of discovering her dreams and achieving
Without the failure of her marriage to Logan Killicks, Janie would not have know
what to search for in her life. After Janie leaves with Jodie to escape her marriage to
Logan Killicks, she recognizes a familiarity about her new marriage, They sat on the
boarding house porch and saw the sun plunge into the same crack in the earth from which
the night emerged.(33) From the experience she has gained in her first marriage, Janie
knows that she does not want another like Logan Killicks, but at the same time she
knows she is watching the same pattern emerge in her new relationship with Jodie Starks.
Janie is slowly coming to an understanding about herself and what her dreams are.
molds her dream according to her experiences. At the conclusion of Janies marriage to
Jodie and his death, as well as the beginning of the Tea Cake Era, Janie has another
revelation about her dream and her horizon, He tipped his hat at the door and was off
with the briefest good night. So she sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon its
amber fluid was drenching the earth, and quenching the thirst of the day.
(99) Janie now
knows what she is looking for in a marriage. This time, Hurston uses the moon instead of
the sun (with Tea Cake representing the moon and Jodie representing the sun). Jodie has
set and Tea Cake has now risen to stand in his place. Hurston was able to effectively
portray the idea of Janies learning experiences, or marriages affecting her dreams
through the use of the horizon as symbol for her unachieved goals.
The reader can have an understanding of where Janie began and ended her
accomplishment through the framing style. Zora Neale Hurston begins her novel at the
end of the story, where Janie is assembling her experience to Phoeby, Its hard for me to
understand what you Janie mean, de way you tell it. And then again Ahm hard of
understandin at times./ Naw, taint nothin lak you Phoeby might think.
So taint no
use in me Janie telling you somethin unless Ah give you de understandin to go long
wid it.(7) Hurston uses the framing style to give the novel better effect in getting theme
across. She starts her novel at the end when Janie has returned from the Everglades,
setting up the story line of Janie returning with insight, only obtained at the end, to share
with Pheoby. Hurston has Janie begin the story of her life as a flashback at the end of her
lifes journey, Ah know exactly what Ah got to tell yuh, but its hard to know where to
Ah aint never seen mah papa…Mah Grandma raised me.
(8) Hurston has Janie
begin a story within a story. The style Hurston uses helps mold the theme into place. The
reader is being told right along with Pheoby (about Janies life) and therefore can
understand the plot more easily. When Janie concludes her story, the reader has a better
understanding of Janie, lifes dreams, and Pheoby as she responds; Ah done growed ten
feet higher jus listenin tuh you, Janie.
Ah aint satisfied wid mahself no mo.(192) At
the conclusion of Janies narrative, the beginning of the novel is again brought in play as
we are transported back to the present. Through the framing style of Zora Neale Hurston,
Janie has come to her self-realization at the end of her life and her story, hence proving
that the theme holds strong with the presence Hurstons writing style.
Hurston uses the setting to bring further insight to the reader as we are transported
from Eatonville to the Everglades, back to Eatonville in order to provide Janie the chance
to live and grow.
Janie begins her life in Eatonville with Jodie Starks It was early in the
afternoon when they got there… It is a whole heap littler than Ah thought.
admitted.(34) Janie begins her life in Eatonville – the first part of her life without her
Grandmother and where she chooses to do things. She hasnt seen much of the world;
only little towns around Eatonville; and so she begins her journey. In the middle of
Janies story, she explains how she left after Jodies death to live with Tea Cake in the
To Janies eyes, everything in the Everglades was big and new.(129) Janie
needed to get away from Eatonville in order to have new experiences and meet different
people, which are necessities of Janie discovering her self and eventually obtaining
self-fulfillment. If she had stayed in Eatonville, she would have remained the same,
bored, lifeless Janie. When Janie returns to Eatonville she is a changed woman, ready to
begin her self realization.
Now, dats how everything wuz, Pheoby, jus lak Ah told
yuh. So Ahm back home agin and Ahm satisfied tuh be heah.(191) Janie has finished
her story and conquered her query, and she is now ready to begin life with her self
attainment as she lives the rest of her life out in the peaceful setting of Eatonville.
Hurstons use of the repetitive setting proved valuable in the perception of Janies
accomplishment found only with a cycle of locations.
In Zora Neale Hurstons novel, There Eyes Were Watching God, the theme is that
the beginning of self fulfillment is, in fact, the vanquishment of ones adversities.
Hurston proves this theme throughout her novel by the employment of style, setting, and
symbolism. Without dealing with obstacles one cannot understand the accomplishment
that ensues them, and therefore would not be able to begin the pursuit of happiness or self
attribution until the end of her quandary; hence further validating T.S.
Elliots quote as