Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 3: Summary and Analysis

Zora Neale Hurston

Chapter 3: Summary and Analysis

Janie tries to love Logan Killicks after they marry, but she finds that she's unable to. Worried, she turns to Nanny, asking her when and if it will happen. Nanny tells her that she should be grateful, because she married a rich man and there are a lot of women out there who would love to live on sixty acres of land and have an organ in their parlor to play. Still, Janie doesn't love him and is actually repulsed by his body and his uncleanliness. Finally, she realizes that marriage doesn't necessarily bring love. Hurston writes: "Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman."

Metaphor

Hurston's writing is rich in metaphor, and there are many examples of it in this novel, including: "She knew the world was a stallion rolling in the blue pasture of ether." Her metaphors are most often connected to the natural world and help develop the theme of nature in the novel.

Motifs

Food. When Janie and Logan marry, Nanny makes sure to have plenty of food at the reception, baking no less than three cakes and providing heaps of fried chicken. This smorgasbord symbolizes the bounty that Janie is marrying into and the life of wealth and luxury that she could enjoy, if only she allowed herself to. Later in the novel, we'll see how surplus food is again used as a symbol of wealth and prestige (and, circumlocutiously, of love).

Water. Water becomes associated with love when Logan makes a point of keeping Janie's water buckets full throughout the day. In what would be a charming parallel, Janie offers Logan a pan of water at the end of the day so he can wash off his feet, but he refuses to. This suggests that, while Logan professes to love Janie, he doesn't really need her to love him or even to be attracted to him. That isn't what their marriage is about.

Themes

Love. Janie learns fairly quickly that marriage doesn't necessarily cause love, as she originally thought. Instead, Janie comes to hate her husband Logan Killicks, and the beautiful, flowering girl we met at the beginning of Chapter 2 becomes a bitter but no less beautiful woman by the end of Chapter 3. This change comes about because Janie's opportunities for experiencing love are stripped from her prematurely, leaving her starved for affection. When that affection comes in the shape of Joe Starks, she follows it with little hesitation.

Nature. In Chapter 2, Hurston used the image of the flowering pear tree to symbolize Janie's communion with nature and her budding sexuality. Hurston continues to reinforce this connection here with a series of metaphors relating to the natural world. When she says "the world was a stallion rolling in the blue pasture of ether," she's emphasizing the beauty and the grandeur of the natural world, which, as we've seen, is connected to Janie's sexuality. This implies that Janie's sexuality, like the stallion, is a powerful force, and that one bad marriage will not be enough to destroy it.