Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Their Eyes Were Watching God - Socratic Seminar Prep

The Socratic Seminar for Their Eyes has been moved back to tomorrow in order to give you more time to prepare. Today, you will be creating a list of 20 guiding questions for tomorrow's discussion, which feed into one overarching question. You are to post this guide as a comment on the post you are reading now. In order to do that, click on the word "comment" at the bottom of this post.

Coming up with provocative questions is not easy, but it is a lot easier with an overarching question, which should:

1) Address a central theme of the book.
2) Place that theme within the context of the world in general, either now, at the time of the book's publishing, or both.

From there you craft questions (10 of which must refer to specific passages in the book) and "feed" into the larger question. For example:

What is the message of Their Eyes Were Watching God regarding the role of women and how does Hurston communicate that message?

1. Consider the scene by the pear tree on p. 10 and 11. What might Janie's experience be symbolizing in terms of the empowerment of women and sexuality.
You may work in pairs.


Virginia Vick said...

Overarching Question
Do you think that Janie is a post modern woman who is trying to find her identity and love?

Follow-up Questions
1. Describe Janie
2. Do you think Janie thought she was better than other girls?
3. Why does Logan Killicks believe that Janie is spoiled?
4. Why Don't Killicks respect Janie as his wife?
5. Why does Joe Starks treat Janie like a trophy wife?
6. Why doesn’t anyone consider what Janie wants?
7. What is Janie looking for in love?
8. Is Janie always yearning for something?
9. Why do you think that Janie didn’t have children?
10. How does Janie feel after Joe dies?
11. How does Tea Cake make Janie feel?
12. How does Tea Cake respect Janie?
13. Do you think that Tea Cake was Janie's true love?
14. Throughout Janie’s life, she searches for true, unconditional love. In her search, she experiences different kinds of love. Describe the types of love she experiences. Which type of love has the most impact on her life? In the end, has Janie experienced true love, and, if so, has it changed her?
15. Do you think love comes with marriage in Janie's cases?
16. At the end did Janie find her independence and love?
17. Describe how Janie feels about Tea Cake's death
18. Describe Janie when she returns back to Eatonville
19. Describe the significance of the pear tree

Charleen Stempek said...

How is the search for one’s independence portrayed in Their Eyes Were Watching God?

1. How does Hurston portray the power that women have in the book?
2. How is the book’s title significant to the independence role in the book?
3. How is the horizon theme significant to the independence role in the book?
4. How do Janie’s three different marriages help her to find herself?
5. How do Joe’s actions work against Janie’s desire for independence?
6. How do Tea Cakes actions help Janie to re-gain her independence?
7. What are the significant differences between Janie’s three marriages that cause her to understand herself?
8. What caused Janie to become more and more distant with Joe as the years passed?
9. In what ways do Nanny’s actions help Janie?
10. In what ways do Nanny’s actions hurt Janie?
11. How does the pear tree symbolize individualist?
12. How do Mrs. Turner’s opinions affect Janie?
13. In Chapter 1, page 1, what do the first two paragraphs depict about the differences in men and women?
14. In Chapter 7, why does Janie finally decide to stick up for herself?
15. What is the significance of the quote on page 160 when the title of the book is finally used within the book?
16. How does the book set up, where it starts where Janie and Pheoby are talking and then the book falls into a flashback, affect the overall meaning of the book?
17. Would Janie telling the story in any way other than in flashback mode affect the overall meaning?
18. Why does Janie want to become independent in herself?
19. How does nature symbolize independence to Janie?
20. How do the people in Janie’s life symbolize different aspects of symbolism?

Nikkie said...

What function does the concept of gender roles have on the meaning of Their Eyes Were Watching God?

1. What is the significance of the opening first two paragraphs of the novel?

2. Compare the three marriages Janie had with Logan, Jody, and Tea Cake. How did each relationship enable Janie's self-awareness?

3. P.53 tells us that Joe had forbidden Janie to be included in the conversation about the mule. Why do you think Joe tried to silence Janie in the duration of their marriage.

4. How could Janie's character be considered "ahead of her time" compared to other women in Their Eyes Were Watching God?

5. Why did Janie allow the men in her life to abuse her physically and verbally?

6. What is ironic about the way Tea Cake died? How does this relate to the belittlement of women's physical and cognitive abilities? (Consider pgs.131 and 95)

7. Consider Joe's comment on p.71 about women, chickens and cows. Also consider Janie’s responding comment. How do you think these types of views develop in a culture?

8. Recall the narration in the novel where a woman is first introduced. What is common about all of the “introductions”?

9. How would you explain Jody’s need for control and power? Why does the community reluctantly follow him despite their wishes?

10. Consider the motif of the pear tree. (Recall chapter 3) How does it’s meaning relate to gender roles, love and marriage? What is Janie's idea of love compared to the men in her life? Also consider Janie’s original motivation to marry each of the three men.

Nikkie Johnson

elaine nelson said...

1. How do all of Janie's relationships help her to find herself?

2. In chapter 9 on page 89 how does Janie finally realize that shes an individual?

3. Why is Janie initially attracted to Jody and how does it fade?

4. Do you think Janie is still in love with Jody at the point in the book starting in chapter 8 on the second page where Janie tells Jody he is going to die?

5. How does the dialect Hurston use show how Janie finds her voice?

6. In chapter 8 on page 86, the 5th paragraph down, Janie starts to tell Jody how she really feels. Would the conversation not have been as meaningful if it was in proper english?

7. How does Janie change overall when she meets Teacake?

8. At the end of chapter 12, on the last page does it seem like Teacake really loves Janie?

9. At the beginning of chapter 12, the first paragraph, Janie starts to do more activities with Tea Cake, how does this show how Janie has grown more into her own skin?

10. How does Janie’s hair represent her finding herself?

11. In the beginning of chapter 9, page 89 at the top, Janie finally lets her hair down. How does this show what she has accomplished?

12. How does Janie talking back to Tea Cake show she has become independent?

13. On page 124, in chapter 13, Janie says: “Looka heah, Tea Cake, if you ever go off from me… You heah me?” Does this relate to how Janie became independent? How?
14. How does Janie going hunting with Tea Cake show she is more independent?
15. In chapter 14, on page 130, at the bottom, Janie starts to go hunting with Teacake and learns something. How does this relationship differ from her other ones?
16. Why does Janie stay with Logan for so long if she knows she is unhappy?
17. On page 30, Janie is fighting with Logan, Janie leaves and why does Logan not do anything about it?
18. Why does the relationship between Janie and Joe change?
19. Does Janie have any type of independence when she is with Joe?
20. In chapter 6 does Joe buying the meal say anything about how he feels about Janie?

JacquiPApEnglish said...

Jacqui Powell
1. What is the message of religion play into Their Eyes Were Watching God?
2. Hurston uses biblical references why, does the references connect to Janie’s life?
3. On p.2 some porch sitter said “What dat ole forty year ole’oman doin’ wid her hair swining’ down her back lak some young gal” is the porch sitter jealous of Janie’s long hair?
4. Lulu Moss says on p.3 “She sits high, but she looks low” does that mean Janie is a high manner person but with a low social status?
5. Why did Janie tell Pheoby that she though she was white when she was young?
6. Hurston uses biblical references why, does the references connect to Janie’s life?
7. Does the street lamp, represent like anything besides a light to see in the dark p.44?
8. Why does Joe Starks need to control everything, like the town, Janie?
9. Why is Joe Starks jealous of Janie?
10. The men in the town are afraid of Joe Stark’s money, why?
Desiree Jennings
1.Janie’s grandmother tells her the story of her mother’s life and how she was born on pgs. 16-20.What is the significance of this story and why did Nanny tell Janie? Why did Janie tell Phoeby?
2.Logan Killicks is by all accounts a good man. Why do you think Nanny married Janie off to him? Why do you think he begins to resent Janie? Do you think he was married before Janie?
3.At first Jody Starks is ambitious and charming. What do you think prompted the change in him? Does the fact that Janie left a man for him hold any significance?
4.Janie’s hair is the subject of jealousy and admiration. Why do you think this is? What is the significance behind this? Do you think there are racial undertones regarding this Symbol?
5.The store represents different things to different character’s in the book. Pick 3 characters and explore their point of view of the store.
6.The use of Dialect is prevalent in the novel. Why do you think Hurston chose this method to get closer to her reader’s? What did the dialect offer to you?
7.The use of imagery is frequent in the novel. Pick two scenes that really ignited your senses.
8.The theme of sexism in the novel regards Janie and her lovers but also the other characters in the novel. Describe this in detail.
9.The theme of forbidden love is ubiquitous in the novel. Describe this in detail.
10.Janie’s marriages to Logan and Jody Men she never truly loved both lasted more than two years. However her marriage to Tea Cake only lasted two years. What is the irony in this?

JaclynDAPEnglish said...

Overarching question: How do the themes of identity, silence, and relationships relate to each other?

Follow-Up questions:
1. How did Janie find her identity through her marriages? And why did Hurston choose to have her find it through those marriages?
2. How did Janie differ from other women in the sense that she found her independence through marriage, rather than losing it?
3. How did Hurston use silence and gender roles to outline what happens in all three of Janie's marriages?
4. Why did Janie marry Logan Killicks before she knew him, when she knew she didn't love him?
5. How do the changes between each husband show her search for her identity?
6. How did Joe Starks' order for Janie to tie up her hair show her lack of independence?
7. How does the first paragraph in chapter seven show how Janie had lost the independence she had gained from leaving her first husband?
8. In the last lines of chapter nine, why did Janie tell Pheoby that "mourning outn't tuh last no longer'n grief" and yet still choose to wait before her next marriage?
9. How does Joe's telling Janie to mind the store and then getting angry at her if she did something wrong show his control over her?
10. "The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up the road towards way off." (pg 25) How does this show her independence from her husband?
11. In chapter 10 when Tea Cake teaches her how to play checkers, how does his role differ from that of her previous marriages?
12. In chapter 6 when Janie was sitting on the porch with the men and she interjected with a comment about women thinking, how does that show her independence from Joe?
13. In the same passage How does Joe exert his control over Janie?
14. At the end of chapter 7 how does Joe hitting Janie show his loss of control over her?
15. In chapter 9, why does Hurston choose to describe Joe’s funeral in such detail?
16. Why does Joe feel he needs to control Janie?
17. Does he (Joe) feel threatened by her (Janie)?
18. In the last few sentences of chapter 20, what do you think Hurston was trying to say when she said Janie “pulled her soul in”?
19. “The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.” How does this passage about nature differ from Janie’s views at the beginning of the book?
20. If Janie was searching for her identity through the entire book, why did she let each of her husbands exert so much control over her?

Brittanie said...

Throughout the novel Janie is on a quest to find her identity, do you believe she finds her identity through the quest of the novel? Why or why not?

1. Seeing as how the first word of the title is plural, what do you thinks this mean?
2. Why do you think Zora Neale Hurston talks about the ships in the first two paragraphs instead of getting directly into the novel?
3. Janie’s second husband Jody Starks, didn’t allow her to be herself, why do you think he wanted to be the center of attention instead of allowing her the glory as well?
4. If Janie’s identity quest was cut short in her second husband how do you think it would have affected the novel?
5. On page 8 and 9 of chapter 2 Janie is explain her discovery of the color of her skin, in what way do you think her discovery relates to her quest for identity?
6. Chapter 15’s first sentence states “Janie learned what it felt like to be jealous” how do you think this contributes to her identity quest?
7. Janie has been married three times how do you think this has effected her reputation and self esteem?
8. In chapter 19 Janie kills Tea Cake do you think she will still be able to continue her quest or do you think the quest for her identity has already been solved?
9. In chapter 19 Janie states that she is going to visit her mother, why do you suppose she changed her plans?
10. Why you think Zora makes the novel a framed novel?
11. Do you believe that the love Jody had for Janie caused her to further search her identity?
12. Why do you think she didn’t stand up for herself at the beginning of the relationship?
13. If the dialect was any different it would cause the novel to change?
14. Because of the fact that Janie’s mother was raped it made her think differently of herself?
15. Many people thought that Janie was more of a modern woman and was more advanced for her time; you think that this caused her to act differently throughout the novel?
16. In the last paragraphs of chapter 20 Janie is talking to Phoebe and says that “I have been to the horizon and back” why do you think this is significant to the novel?
17. Has Janie experienced true love with any of her relationships or do you think she was blinded and wanted to feel love?
18. In the novel Tea Cake beats Janie to prove that he is in charge how do you think this contributes to the over all meaning of the story?
19. Tea Cake was bitten by wild dog, but Janie was there for him through the sickness, if this was one of her other husbands do you think that she would have taken the same route?

Kelley said...

Kelley D and Michelle G

Over arching question: How does Janie develop with all the love that she acumulates throughout her life?

Follow up Question 1: Janie allows her first two husbands to shelter her from the world, why does she not have her own voice?

Follow up question 2: On page 75 Janie talks for the first time on the porch in Eatonsville, why did it take her so long to talk?

Follow up question 3: What is the significance of the porches, does it show her husbands neglect to her.

Follow up question 4: With each new husband Janie wears different clothing, what does each piece of clothing symbolize for her?

Follow up question 5: On page 32 Janie realizes that while shes running away from Logan she still has her apron on, when she realizes this she rips it off. Is he so carelessly getting rid of her apron forshadow what her future marriges will be?

Follow up question 6: With each husband the men showed their love for Janie in different ways, in what way was this significant in how the marrige would turn out?

Follow up question 7: On page 43 Joe says the following: “Thank yuh fuh yo; compliments, but mah wife don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh woman and her place is in de home.” It is clear that what Joe said about Janie bugged her, but she didn’t show it to anyone, in what way was she trapped in her marriage with Joe?

Follow up question 8: Why is Nany so hasty for Janie to get married?

Follow up question 9: Pg. 21. If Nanny loves Janie so much, why does she make her get married to Logan who is only know for his sixty-acres of land?

Follow up question 10: Why does Joe protect Janie so much that he won't let her onto the porch when people come by?

Follow up question 11: Janie is excited to be in love when she meets all her husbands. What makes each lose their passion? pg. 22.

Follow up question 12: Page 60. Janie wants to go to the mules funeral but Joe won't let her, why doesn't she take a stand and demand him to let her go?

Follow up question 13: Janie gains some independence when she leaves Logan and when she meets Joe. Does Joe's sickness affect Janie's independence in anyway? Consider what happens as he grows more ill?

Follow up question 14: When Tea Cake is bit by the wild dog, he becomes someone Janie has never seen but even with the doctors warning she still is not afraid of him. Does this show that Tea Cake is her true love?

Follow up question 15: Judgment from others, especially Mrs. Turner, leads Janie to gain strength how?

Follow up question 16: In what way does Janie sacrifice her independence in order to be happy and married?

Follow up question 17: Does Janie ever find true love? If she does is it just one husband or a little bit of all three of them?

18. Pg. 189. Why does Janie refer to herself as a Pharoh?

19. What are the similarities and differences between Janie's 3 relationships? Isn't it all the same when Janie first meets all 3 men? Pg. 28. 94.

20. Is Joe possibly scared of Janie so he makes her be quite like when she can't go to the mules funeral and talk on the porch. Pg 53. Is he scared of what she could become? (bigger and better)

Lorena said...


Compare and contrast Janie's three marriages. What initially pulls her to each of the three men? How do they differ from one another? What does she learn from each experience?

1. Why does Janie’s kissing Johnnie Taylor end her childhood, and force her into a marriage with Logan?
2. On the first page of chapter three, it states, “Yes, she would love Logan after they were married”. How could she love someone that she didn’t want to be with in the first place?
3. Why did Janie stay married to Logan so long before she decided to go off and marry Joe Starks?
4. What was it about Jody that made Janie leave her first husband?
5. Why did Janie stay married to Jody, even when he was putting her down, and telling her, her place was no where but the home?
6. Was Jody’s becoming mayor one of the reasons why there was distance starting to get in between their marriage? “A feeling of coldness and fear took hold of her. She felt far away from things and lonely.” Hurston, 46.
7. Why does Janie allow Joe to have so much control over her, when she didn’t allow Logan to do the same?
8. When Jody started making Janie tie up her hair around the store, was this because he was afraid that she would leave him for another man?
9. Why did Janie always keep her thoughts bottled in with Jody, and never expressed them, when she always let Logan know of her feelings? “She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about” Hurston, 72.
10. When Janie actually stands up, and tells Jody of him self, he gets so angry and embarrassed that he hits her, again. Why does Janie keep tolerating him beating on her?
11. When Jody was lying on his death bed, why did he not want Janie to see him, even though that was his wife?
12. What was is about Tea Cake that made him stand out from Janie’s previous two husbands?
13. Why was the town so surprised by Janie’s dating Tea Cake?
14. When Janie caught Tea Cake with Nunkie, did she lose a little bit of trust with him?
15. As much as Tea Cake loved Janie and how much he new Janie loved him- why did he feel the need to whip her when he found out about Mrs. Turner’s son liking Janie?
16. Janie’s love for Tea Cake was evident more then ever, when they were moving from place to place during the hurricane; why did it take her this long to find someone that she could really love? “Ah reckon you wish now you had of stayed in yo big house ‘way from such as dis, don’t yuh?... Naw… Naw?... Yeah, naw. People don’t die till dey time come no how, don’t keer where you at. Ah’m wid mah husband in uh storm, dat’s all” Hurston, 159

Jazz G AP English said...

Overarching Question
What does Jamie's 3 different husbands in 3 different location say about her personality?

Follow-up Questions
1. Why doesn't Janie have any children after 3 husbands?
2. Why don't any of her husbands ask her 4 kids?
3. How does Janie's lack of having children characterize her?
4. Why did Janie marry Joe so quickly?
5. How does Janie change with every new husband and location?
6. Did Janie ever love Joe?
7. Or was it something else?
8. Is Janie more like women today or women in her own time?
9. How is Janie more like women today or back then?
10. Why isn't Janie sad about Joe's death?
11. Why doesn't Janie ever think or feel bad for Logan.
12. How does Janie change after leaving Logan?
13. How does she change after Joe dies.
14. How is Janie different after meeting Tea Cake.
15. Do you think that Janie is niave?
16. Why do you think Janie did everything each of her husbands told her?
17. Do you think Janie will get married again?
18. After such hard relationships and experiences Janie stays youthful looking, what does that say about Janie's personality?
19. Why does Janie hate here Grandma for making her marry Logan?
20. Why does Joe make her be excluded from the rest of Eatonville?