What is the importance or significance of the closing scene in Their Eyes Were Watching God ?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The final scene has both a narrative and thematic relevance to Their Eyes Were Watching God. In narrative terms, the scene functions as the frame to Janie's story which she has just finished telling to her friend Phoeby. Thematically, the scene links back to the underlying motif of the novel, Janie's quest for her self and identity. After she has  told her story to her friend, unpleasant memories take hold of her, reminding her of how she hd to kill her beloved Tea Cake to survive:

The day of the gun, and the bloody body, and the courthouse came and commenced to sing a sobbing sigh out of every corner in the room

Yet, Janie is able to push these away by invoking Tea cake himself who

came prancing around her where she was and the song of the sigh flew out of the window and lit in the top of the pine trees.

These, together with the final sentence ("Here was peace"), are usually interpreted by critics in an affirmative light: Janie has finally made peace with herself, she is able to control her memories and her own life. Yet, could that be that these lines signify self-deception  and the unfinished nature of Janie's quest? Aren't they creating a grave for her who is now going to live in the memory of the dead Tea Cake, a sort of shroud opposed to "the sun as his shawl" imagery of these final lines? Can't the final sentence "Here was peace" be read as her final words before her own death?

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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