Their Eyes Were Watching God: Pear Tree Quotes

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In ''Their Eyes Were Watching God'' by Zora Neale Hurston, the pear tree outside Janie's grandmother's house becomes a symbol for Janie's passion for the men in her life.


The pear tree in Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is more than just a normal fruit-bearing tree. It is a symbol for the passion that the protagonist, Janie, experiences as she grows through her relationships with different men during this story. In this lesson, we will find out what Janie has to say about the pear tree.

A Pear Tree
pear tree

Johnny Taylor

Janie has grown up in her grandmother's home with a white family. There is a pear tree in the yard that grows to have significant meaning for her as she begins to consider herself a sexual being. After sixteen-year-old Janie Crawford lets Johnny Taylor kiss her, Janie steals away to the pear tree every chance she gets. ''Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back-yard. She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days.''

Janie is not sure why the pear tree has such a tremendous effect on her, just as she does not understand the feelings that Johnny Taylor inspires in her. ''It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously. How? Why?''

Janie views the bees' interactions with the tree blossoms as the consummation of an overwhelming love that she is just beginning to desire for herself. ''She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation.''

Logan Killicks

In reality, Janie's feelings for Johnny are nothing more than a chemical reaction. When Janie's grandmother sees her with Johnny, she becomes concerned about Janie's future and arranges for Janie to marry Logan Killicks. Logan is unattractive and old, but he owns land and can take care of Janie. Thinking that she could eventually fall in love with whomever she marries, Janie agrees to marry him. ''The vision of Logan Killicks was desecrating the pear tree, but Janie didn't know how to tell Nanny that.'' Stripped of the love she desires, it doesn't take long for Janie to leave Logan for another man.

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