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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What is the significance of the title "Their Eyes Were Watching God"?

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Yes, the title of the book is based on a quote from the book; however it seems to have greater significance in the scheme of things as it seems to bring so many thoughts and ideas from the novel to a close. During a huge party, a hurricane starts and...

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begins to break up the party due to its severity.Tea Cake and Motor Boat stop what they are doing when they hear thunder outside, and Janie tells them to be quiet because “Ol’ Massa is doin’ His work now.” The noise of the storm makes the noises that they made at the party seem quite small by comparison. The implication is that this natural phenomenon is the product of God, which is instantly more impressive than anything that could be made by man. This storm can be a metaphor for the power of nature, the type of nature that we first read about in Janie’s gentle bee. It is as if they understand the power of God for the first time. When the winds knock out the power, the others wonder if “He meant to measure their puny might against His.” “Their eyes were watching God” in recognition of God’s power, and the farmers understand with whom true power lies. This power is symbolized by the lake. The strength of the rushing water can knock any one person aside easily, and this illustrates the power that God and nature possess over human beings.

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The title comes from a quote in the book which reads, in full:

They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God

It basically means that, you couldn't always tell, but people in the book have an emotional and ever-present knowledge and association with God.

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