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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Student Question

How does Hurston use personification to describe Janie's soul in chapter 13 of Their Eyes Were Watching God?

Expert Answers

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The end of chapter thirteen features a bit of a test of Janie and Tea Cake's relationship. He has taken her money that she had saved carefully and gone and gambled with it. Janie has been incredibly worried about this, only to see him return having made more money with it and returning her the money that she had. Then, after declaring his plan to her to make them rich by going to the Everglades, he falls asleep. As Janie watches him, she experiences the following feeling:

He drifted off into sleep and Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place.

The personification is of course based around the description of her soul, and it is compared to some kind of frightened animal that has tried to hide itself away and seek refuge from external threats. The point is that Janie's soul has had to hide itself away during her marriage with her previous two husbands. With Tea Cake she has finally found somebody who can encourage her to be who she is and who can nurture her spirit.

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