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

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Consider the of motif of sight and seeing in Their Eyes Were Watching God; how does "seeing clearly" or "seeing the truth" help certain characters advance? How does metaphorical blindness cause problems for certain characters (particularly the men)? How is self-perception instrumental?

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Hurston's novel opens with a lyrical meditation on seeing. Men see "ships at a distance" carrying their dreams; when they do not achieve their dreams, they become broken or bitter. For women, the dream becomes a truth that can guide them, as we see with Janie.

A second instance of this motif occurs when Janie discovers that she is black, when (as Alphabet) she searches for herself in the photograph her white playmates have. This moment of recognition creates something like the double consciousness that W.E.B. du Bois speaks of and initiates Janie's and the reader's awareness that the self needs to be integrated in a way in which the inner self and one's outer recognition of self align.

Janie chafes in her first two marriages because of the gap between what she desires and feels about herself...

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