Their Eyes Were Watching God

The Horizon Symbol Analysis

The Horizon Symbol Icon
Janie invokes the symbol of the horizon repeatedly throughout the novel; to Janie, the horizon symbolizes the realm of the possible, that which she can dream about. During her arranged marriage with Logan Killicks, Janie remarks that the stylish and ambitious Jody Starks shows her a glimpse of the horizon, meaning that he provides her with a vision of what her life could be like. Though after Jody, too, turns out to treat Janie poorly and stifle her voice, it is Tea Cake who ultimately provides Janie with access to the horizon: in her marriage with Tea Cake, Janie is able to find love, sexual satisfaction, independence ,and self-expression all at once, that which she has always dreamed of. For that reason, even after Tea Cakes death, Janie feels that she still has and always will have access to the metaphorical horizon.

The Horizon Quotes in Their Eyes Were Watching God

The Their Eyes Were Watching God quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Horizon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of Their Eyes Were Watching God published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by time. That is the life of men.

Related Symbols: The Horizon
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

Janie pulled back a long time because he did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees, but he spoke for far horizon.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford, Jody Starks
Related Symbols: The Horizon, The Pear Tree
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon – for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you – and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter's neck tight enough to choke her.

Related Characters: Nanny Crawford
Related Symbols: The Horizon
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

"Ah done been tuh de horizon and back and now Ah kin set heah in mah house and live by comparisons. Dis house ain't so absent of things lak it used tuh be befo' Tea Cake come along. It's full uh thoughts, 'specially dat bedroom."

Related Characters: Janie Crawford (speaker), Tea Cake
Related Symbols: The Horizon
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

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Of course he wasn't dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish net…She called in her soul to come and see.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford, Tea Cake
Related Symbols: The Horizon
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Horizon Symbol Timeline in Their Eyes Were Watching God

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Horizon appears in Their Eyes Were Watching God. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...about her; without any elaboration or detail, Janie explains that she has traveled "tuh de horizon and back." She has returned to Eatonville because Tea Cake is gone and she was... (full context)
Chapter 4
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
...Joe does not "represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees," he nonetheless "spoke for far horizon," and this is why she finds herself so attracted to him. (full context)
Chapter 9
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...taught Janie as a child. Specifically, Janie says that Nanny took the idea of the horizon and limited it "to such a little bit of a thing." In other words, Janie... (full context)
Chapter 20
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...telling her that she is satisfied to be home, as she has "been tuh the horizon and back." Janie expresses awareness of the judgments she will face now, but that she... (full context)