Their Eyes Were Watching God Sample Essay Outlines
by Zora Neale Hurston

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Sample Essay Outlines

Topic #1
Throughout her life, Janie has to fight what is expected of her by other people. Follow her life in the novel, and comment on how she battles these perceptions.

I. Thesis Statement: The people with whom Janie lived tried to restrict her to an understood, stereotypical role, but Janie was able to free herself from these accepted roles.

II. Nanny
A. Thinks a woman should be safe
B. Encourages Janie to marry for convenience
C. Is satisfied with Janie’s life, though Janie herself is not

III. Logan
A. Cannot understand why Janie won’t act like his last wife
B. Expects Janie to work without question
1. Becomes more demanding when he feels threatened
2. Treats Janie like property
C. Janie leaves him for Joe Starks

IV. Joe Starks
A. Entices Janie with talk of ambition and dreams
B. Expects her to be content with his dreams
C. Feels threatened by her refusal
1. Tries to suppress her
2. Becomes abusive when she retaliates
D. His death liberates her

Topic #2
Compare the settings of the novel in terms of the system of power that is used in each society. How is power used in each society?

I. Thesis Statement: The setting in the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is directly related to the hierarchy of power that each location uses.

II. Janie’s pear tree
A. The revelation is natural
B. Nature is connected with beauty
C. Contrast with Logan’s farm
1. Power is based upon usefulness

III. Eatonville
A. Joe Starks is the central figure
1. Achieves this power through accomplishment
2. Earns the respect of the people
B. Exploits his power for personal satisfaction
C. His loss of power equals loss of life

IV. The Everglades
A. No one is superior since everyone is poor
B. Tea Cake and Janie become leaders due to personal charm
C. People who have power become the enemy
1. Mrs. Turner and her brother
2. Janie, briefly, due to Tea Cake’s death

V. The hurricane
A. The ultimate force of nature
B. The true killer of Tea Cake
C. No one is able to utilize its force, since it cannot be exploited
D. Makes everyone equal

Topic #3
Compare and contrast Tea Cake and Joe...

(The entire section is 554 words.)