The Meaningful Pear Tree

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“Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.” (Hurston, 8). In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie Crawford, the main character throughout the novel tells Pheoby, her friend, her story from beginning to end. A woman who learned and grew from her three harsh and somewhat lovable marriages. Janie didn’t have much freedom of her own, she was connected with nature when she was very young. One day, she stepped out the front door, and saw a beautiful pear tree and admired it and admired the freedom it had. The author develops the symbol of the pear tree in the novel and the meaning of it by characterization, ideas in the novel and Janie’s marriages in the novel. In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the pear tree represents Janie’s freedom and obtaining it.

Hurston develops the symbol in the beginning of the novel, the pear tree in Their Eyes Were Watching God, can be presented by nature. This quote was taking place at nanny’s backyard where Janie found a pear tree, “Oh to be a pear tree…any tree in bloom!…She was sixteen. She had glossy leaves and bursting buds and she wanted to struggle with life but it seemed to elude her. Where were the singing bees for? ” (Hurston, 11). Hurston draws connections with nature and real life. Janie sees the pear tree as if it has freedom of her own, being free and she wonders when she’ll feel that way and get that in life. Hurston uses nature to bring up the use of tree imagery to show the connection Janie has towards nature to the pear tree. The pear tree represents a life Janie wants but her race and class kind of slows her down obtaining it.

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Janie’s race and her class keeps her from feeling free and obtaining the pear tree. The white were always the dominant and the blacks are the low class. “ Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out.” (Hurston 14) . This is where nanny explains to Janie that they are (the blacks) the mules in the world. They were always denied the opportunity to live as free and equal citizens in white communities. This explains why nanny forces Janie to marry logan because in her past the white always had treated her bad and especially what had to happen to her daughter, she wants the best for Janie, but this also causes the pear to disintegrate from Janie. One of the themes in this novel, which is based off the symbol, the pear tree, is everyone, regardless of age, race, or gender has a right to achieve happiness. Based off nanny’s past, Janie can’t obtain the happiness and freedom she wants, which what the pear tree has. This theme can relate to the current topic white nationalism , the whites believe they are the powerful ones and are superior than everyone else and seek to develop and maintain a white national identity. This is what caused nanny being mistreated and her daughter by the white community and base off that she doesn’t want Janie to wander off and be used and mistreated by men, especially white men, like them.With that being said, it causes Janie to have a hard time obtaining the pear tree because of her race and her class. Even though her race slowly gives her a hard time obtaining the pear tree, Janie three marriages also kept her from the pear tree.

In the novel, each of Janie’s three marriages had kept her from the pear tree, making it not exist for her. Each of her three marriages gave her unhappiness at the end. Janie was forced in marrying Logan Killicks by her Nanny, she never was in love with him therefore she felt trapped in the marriage. In the novel Logan says, “You ain’t got no particular place. It’s wherever Ah need yuh. Git uh move on yuh, and dat quick.” (Hurston , 31). Logan wants Janie to do whatever he wants her to do, she’s basically serving him whenever he needs her, he had never gave attention or affection. Janie doesn’t feel free in her marriage with Logan and their was no love between them, that’s when she realizes at the end that marriages don’t make up love and that her dream had died, meaning the pear tree. Janie second marriage wasnt’t a marrige she was forced in but it was a controlling one. Jody says to Janie, “”You behind a plow! You ain’t got no mo’ business wid uh plow than uh hog is got wid uh holiday! You ain’t got no business cuttin’ up no seed p’taters neither.

A pretty doll-baby lak you is made to sit on de front porch and rock and fan yo’self and eat p’taters dat other folks plant just special for you.”” (Hurston 29). This may seem like Jody cares and wants to treat Janie like a queen, but like Logan, Jody sees woman as an object to look at. Janie doesn’t realize it right away, but later throughout the novel, Jody becomes very controlling,dictating how she should dress, wear her hair, and conduct herself in the store they run together, and also not letting her join in group discussions in the town, he wants her all to himself. In this marriage, Janie has no freedom whats so ever, she is just there to comfort Jody, Jody completely took the pear tree away from her, he literary took the pear tree/dream away from her. After Jody’s death, Janie had met someone and eventually married Tea Cake, their marriage was full of happiness but end with a tragedy. The narrator states, “He could be a bee to a blossom- a pear tree blossom in the spring. He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps.” (Hurston, 106).

Janie compares the pear tree to Tea cake, that the pear tree is Tea Cake and Tea Cake is her freedom. Tea Cake gives Janie an opportunity to be free and loved. Tea Cake says to Jaine,””Twasn’t ‘cause Ah wanted tuh stay off lak day, and it sho Lawd, wuzn’t no woman. If you didn’t have de power tuh hold me and hold me tight, Ah wouldn’t be callin’ yuh Mis’ Woods. Ah met plenty women before Ah knowed you tuh talk tuh. You’se de onliest woman in de world Ah ever even mentioned gittin married tuh. You bein’ older don’t make no difference. Don’t never consider dat no mo’. If Ah ever gits tuh messin’ round another woman it won’t be on account of her age. It’ll be because she got me in de same way you got me—so Ah can’t help mahself.”” (Hurston, 121). Tea Cake has so much love for her that he doesn’t care about their age differences. This relates to the pear tree because, through all Janie’s marriages, her freedom was taken away and passion, but Tea Cake brought it back to her. The pear tree can be portrayed from Janie’s marriages.

In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the pear tree represents Janie’s freedom and obtaining it. Throughout the novel, the author represents the pear tree through nature and portrays the symbol meaning by the ideas, characterization in the novel. Through Janie’s marriages, it gave an idea of what Janie was talking about when she saw the pear tree and what it meant to her and to the readers. The pear tree can be represented in many ways in the novel but one thing is that the pear tree is an dream Janie’s wants and a things she wants in her life.

Works Cited Page

Jones, Sharon L. “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Critical Companion to Zora Neale Hurston, Facts On File, 2008. Bloom’s Literature, Accessed 13 Mar. 2019.

Gaspar, Robert. “”Their Eyes Were Watching God: Overview.”” Reference Guide to American Literature, edited by Jim Kamp, 3rd ed., St. James Press, 1994. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 17 Mar. 2019.

Domina, Lynn. “”An overview of Their Eyes Were Watching God.”” Literature Resource Center, Gale, 2019. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 17 Mar. 2019.

Moss, Joyce, and George Wilson. “”Overview: Their Eyes Were Watching God.”” Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them, vol. 3: Growth of Empires to the Great Depression (1890-1930s), Gale, 1997. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 17 Mar. 2019.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. HarperCollins, HarperCollins, New York 2013.

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The Meaningful Pear Tree. (2019, Sep 04). Retrieved from