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In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, what does the horizon mean for...

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queenarlene44 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 4, 2011 at 5:21 AM via web

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In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, what does the horizon mean for Janie symbolically?

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copelmat | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 20, 2011 at 4:22 AM (Answer #1)

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Throughout the novel, the horizon symbolizes dreams and aspirations.

In the story's opening lines, we learn that "ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." In this instance the "ship" is the man's dream or ultimate goal. However, we also learn that for many men, these ships "sail forever on the horizon" because the individual does not take the action necessary to achieve that dream and instead waits for the ship to come to him. This results in many mens' dreams never being realized.

Janie, however, is just the opposite. She chases and persues her dreams with abandon, sometimes against the judgement of others and of society and sometimes against her own better judgement. But, in the end, Janie achieves her goals. In the novel's final scene, Janie "pulls in her horizons" suggesting that symbolically she has reached her horizon, her dream.

The natural images that are used throughout the novel (the pear tree, the hurricane, Janie's hair, etc.) all help to communicate and deepen our understanding of the trials and tribulations that Janie must endure to reach her goal. But reach it she does!

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