What does Janie mean when she says God snatched me out de fire through you?

Begin reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, and answer the following questions based on chapter 1-12

Chapter 1 Questions

1. In the opening two paragraphs, a poetic image establishes a contrast between the way men and women dream and remember. What do the ship and the horizon represent? The Watcher?  How does the dreaming and remembering differ for women?


2. In the fourth paragraph,  the sun has “left his footprints in the sky.”  What image

is created through this personification?  What attitude toward nature is expressed in it?  


3. The central figure in the story is a woman who has just buried her “sudden dead.”  The

townspeople are aware of her return and are awaiting to hear her story.  Words and storytelling are important in their lives.  How do they use words in positive and negative

ways?  What does it mean to be “a delegate to de big ‘ssociation of life.”  List the

characters and their relationship to Janie.

4. What does Janie mean when she says, “So ‘tain’t no use in me telling you somethin’ unless Ah give you de understandin’ to go ‘long wid it.” What poetic image

suggests the long amount of time necessary for Janie to tell her whole story?

Chapter 2

1. Look at the metaphor that opens chapter 2.  Discuss what it means.


2. Who is Nanny?  What were the advantages and disadvantages for her and Janie in

living with the Washburns?

3. How did Janie’s “conscious life” commence?  Discuss the meanings suggested by

the pear tree and other poetic images used to describe this experience.

4. What decision does Nanny make when she sees Janie kissing Johnny Taylor? How does Janie react?  What different needs of the two women are in conflict?


5. Describe Nanny’s dream for her youth and her hopes for her daughter and

granddaughter.  Review the story of Nanny’s hardships and suffering.  What image does

Nanny use at the close of the chapter in her appeal to Janie to be sensitive to her vulnerability.  Why is it an especially appropriate image for Nanny, as a caretaker for others?


Chapter 3

1. Janie is too young to understand the nature of her marriage to Longan Killicks, but she senses  intuitively her impending unhappiness.  What is the role of the pear tree in

her thinking?

2. Why is Nanny unaware of Janie’s dissatisfaction?  What is it Janie wants from marriage that is not possible for her in this marriage?  When does Nanny realize Janie’s

problem?  What happens to her as a result? Chapter 4

Why does Janie believe that “until death she was going to have flower dust and a springtime sprinkled over everything”?  What do you think will happen to this dream?

Look at the image of the sun that closes the chapter. Chapter 5 What is the reaction of men to Joe? To Janie? List Joe’s accomplishments.  Chapter 6 What does the mule incident show about the townspeople and the relationship between Joe and Janie? Chapter 7 How do Joe and Janie respond to Joe’s illness? Examine the imagery, description used by Hurston. Chapter 8 How does the difference in how men and women dream and remember in Chapter One apply to Joe and Janie’s experience in Chapter Eight?Chapter 9 What is the myth that explains why Janie begins to “show her shine?”Chapter 10 Why is the moon significant? Chapter 11 Analyze the relationship between Janie and  Tea Cake. Chapter 12

What does Janie mean when she says “Ah done lived Grandma’s way, now ah means to

live mine.”?




Chapter 13 What connections have been make between marriage and selfhood thus far in the novel?

Chapter 14

How does Janie’s life differ in the Everglades from her life in Eatonville? How is it the

same? Chapter 15 What impression is created of TeaCake’s character, maturity, devotion? Chpt. 16 What is revealed about the characters of Janie and Tea Cake in their interactions with Mrs. Turner and her “racial problem.”Chpt. 17 Discuss the importance of the scene at the restaurant. Chpt. 18

In what way has Tea Cake “made somethin’ outa” Janie as she tells him at the end of this

chapter?  How does Hurston use an actual event to develop her plot/theme? Chpt. 19

What does Janie mean when she says “God snatched me out de fire through you”?   How does Tea Cake’s illness and death show their love? Chpt. 20 According to Janie (as she tells Phoebe) what is love like?  How does this relate to her first idea of love, in the first chapter.