Illustration of the profile of Janine Crawford and another person facing each other

Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

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Chapter 20: Summary and Analysis

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In the final chapter of the novel, we return to the frame narrative, in which Janie finishes telling her life story to Pheoby. Janie says that she doesn’t care what people think of her, because she has learned the most important thing in life: that there are only two things everybody has to do (to go to God and find out about living for themselves). Janie has lived for herself, and in the end, that brings her peace.


Hurston uses alliteration many times in the sentence “The day of the gun, and the bloody body, and the courthouse came and commenced to sing a sobbing sigh.” This alliteration emphasizes the repetitive and cyclical nature of Janie’s grief, which stays with her even when she finds some kind of peace at the end of the novel.


Peace. In a novel full of death, disease, and domestic abuse, it’s hard to imagine that Janie could ever find peace. And yet that’s exactly what she does. Her time with Tea Cake taught her to listen to her own desires, to do what she wants to do, and to see the joy in life. Though her grief doesn’t disappear by any means, she does find peace at the end of the novel, when she thinks back on her life and realizes that she has finally discovered who she is and what she wants. The reader knows that the next chapter of Janie’s life will see her living for herself, though this will never reach the page.

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Chapter 19: Summary and Analysis