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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List of Characters

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Janie Crawford

Janie Crawford is the novel’s Black female narrator and protagonist. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a bildungsroman that follows Janie’s formative years, beginning in her youth. Raised by her grandmother, Nanny Crawford, Janie is a precocious, romantic teenager, admired for her lighter skin and beauty. (Read our extended character analysis of Janie Crawford.)

Joe “Jody” Starks

Joe “Jody” Starks is Janie’s second husband, whom she meets during her unfulfilling first marriage to Logan Killicks. Janie is drawn to Joe because he is able to offer her what she desires, including adventure, riches, and prosperity. (Read our extended character analysis of Joe “Jody” Starks.

Tea Cake

Vergible Woods, or “Tea Cake,” is Janie’s third husband, who serves as a foil to her previous husband, Joe Starks. Whereas Joe was only concerned with status and wealth, Tea Cake works as a blue-collar migrant agricultural laborer in Florida. He does not control Janie, and he allows her to express herself in any way she desires. (Read our extended character analysis of Tea Cake.

Minor Characters

In addition to the following characters, extended character analysis is available for the more notable minor characters in Their Eyes Were Watching God: Nanny Crawford, Logan Killicks, Mrs. Turner, and Phoeby Watson.

Bootnyny, Coodemay, Ed Dockery, ’Lias, Muck-Boy, Sop-de-Bottom, Sterrett, Stew Beef

These men are migrant laborers in the Everglades. Many are Tea Cake’s friends who are involved in the fight at Mr. and Mrs. Turner’s restaurant.

Leafy Crawford 

Leafy is Janie’s mother, who ran away after giving birth to Janie.

Motor Boat

Motor Boat is Tea Cake’s friend who flees with Janie and Tea Cake when the hurricane hits the Everglades. 


Janie catches Nunkie, a younger woman, flirting and playing in the fields with Tea Cake. Tea Cake insists that Nunkie doesn’t mean anything to him. 

Johnny Taylor

As a teenager, Janie kisses Johnny Taylor. This marks her sexual awakening as well as Nanny’s decision to marry her off to farmer Logan Killicks. 

Mrs. Annie Tyler

Known in Eatonville for running off with a younger man who took all of her money, Mrs. Annie Tyler serves as an example for Janie, who initially fears Tea Cake will take all of her money as well. 

Hezekiah Potts 

Hezekiah is the assistant shopkeeper at the Eatonville store. He takes over after Joe’s death and begins to take on Joe’s mannerisms.

Sam Watson 

Sam Watson is Pheoby’s husband. He has a pleasant sense of humor and often defends Janie as she tells her story.

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Janie Crawford