Beauty and Devastation
"It [the tiny bloom] had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously"(10). In Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” her use of imagery, particularly of nature, is used to stimulate the audience's imagination while communicating deep significance in the novel. The imagery of nature creates a unique parallel between the two sides of nature; its beauty and its devastation.
Janie's idea of contentment is shown in Hurston's imagery of a pear tree, which represents nature's beauty. The pear tree represents Janie's idealized views of ...view middle of the document...
The devastating aspects of nature are shown through the hurricane, as natural disasters depict Mother Nature's most destructive elements. The sea is personified as the most destructive force of the hurricane, by comparing it to a monster that "had left its bed." As Lake Okechobee breaks through the dikes with two hundred mile per hour winds, it’s described as a monster:
The monstropolous beast had left his bed. The two-hundred miles an hour wind had loosed his chains. He seized hold of his dikes and ran forward until he met the quarters; uprooted them like grass and rushed on after his supposed-to-be conquerors, rolling the dikes, rolling the houses, rolling the people in the houses along with other timbers. The sea was walking the earth with a heavy heel. (161-162)
To describe the devastation, the sea is "walking the earth with a heavy heel." The imagery gives a haunting description of how nature, often thought of as peaceful, can also cause immense devastation. To expand on this description, it shows the character's thoughts with, "through the screaming wind they heard things crashing and things hurtling and dashing with unbelievable velocity […] and the lake got madder with only its dikes between them and him [God]" (159).
The devastation of nature, shown in Hurston's colorful imagery of the hurricane, greatly enhances the characters' perception of God, the creator of the world. The storm that ultimately determines the direction of the novel also includes the first appearance of the title, as Tea Cake, Janie, and Motor Boat look up to the black sky and "their eyes question God." Hurston writes:
Chink up your cracks, shiver in your wet beds and wait on the mercy of the Lord. The bossman might have the thing stopped before mourning anyway. It is so easy to be hopeful in the daytime when you can see the things you wish on. But it was night, it stayed night. Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands. (158)
The imagery in this scene not only personifies nature and the storm, but immediately draws attention to the importance of the title within the characters Janie and Tea Cake. The hurricane causes the characters to see God's power through nature, and submit to forces beyond their control as they realize they are inferior...