Their Eyes Were Watching God Questions and Answers
by Zora Neale Hurston

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After reading the last three pages of the novel, does Janie's story end in triumph, despair, or a mixture of both?

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Margaret Mccarney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Depending on what one emphasizes, one might settle on a different answer. The novel is easy to simplify as a coming-of-age story with Janie triumphing at the end. She is able to "sit on high" and preach a sermon, as Nanny might have wanted, but this is Janie's story, not her grandmother's. The story she tells (i.e., the novel itself) is not just about power or attaining the things the white community values. Janie's life before Tea Cake was influenced by those values, and she needs to reject them in order to become free.

At the same time, Tea Cake's sickness and death, her having to be the one to shoot him, makes the ending more nuanced than triumph suggests. She does attain her pear-tree moment with Tea Cake, and the wisdom she gains from that will give her comfort. She is independent, and her desire to find a new horizon has been abated. However, the last few pages have a complex element to them. We can celebrate with Janie but...

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