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Cassie Chamlee J. Gibbs/ English 1102 Essay 2 20 October 2011 Porches: Evolving Platforms Throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston makes frequent mention of inanimate objects and brings them to life using literary elements such as personification and symbolism. Usage of such terms draws in the reader, and helps him/her to empathize with Janie during different periods of her life. The subject of porches in particular serves as a connection for Janie, and represents different emotions and changes for her throughout the novel. As any porch can be a stage in the literal sense, it also serves as a figurative stage for Janies journey from a love-starved teenager to a passionate, mature woman. In the opening chapter of the story, Hurston places Janie walking home in Eatonville, Florida, muddied and disheveled. Following her arrival, her kissin-friend Pheoby finds Janie on her back porch sitting in overalls, soaking her feet. At this point, the porch serves as a jumping off point in the book, because shortly after Pheobys appearance, Janies personal story of pear trees, three husbands, and a hurricane begins. The porch is also referenced when she and Tea Cakes relationship begins to flourish in Eatonville. She watched the moon rise from her porch after Tea Cake walked her home, and anticipated the start of a brand new day, and possibly a brand new chapter of her own life. The porch also plays a significant role during Janies marriage to Joe Starks. Their stores front porch serves as the towns gathering place for meetings and general observation of the community. The men watch Matt Bonners yellow mule, play checkers, and appraise the women,

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as well as enjoy each others commentary of people passing through their little town. The store porch also serves as a type of throne for Mayor Joe Starks. He makes his announcements and speeches here, so the porch also functions as his personal podium, as he is the undisputed leader of the town. The most significant role Hurston gives to the porch is that of judgment. For instance, the towns-people watch Janie from their porches as she returns home from the Everglades. Like the stores porch serves as Joes stage, it does the same for the residents of Eatonville. As the women chatter about her soiled clothes and supposedly failed marriage, the men take notice of her unwavering beauty despite her age. Judgment is the porchs most obvious and substantial role, because it is consistent throughout the novel, and serves as the only place where people feel superior. The porch is the heart of the town and the roads are the veins, for whatever is said on the porch will surely be known come supper time in the homes of Eatonville. Regardless of the diverse roles of the porch, it serves as a stage for beginnings, gatherings, and judgments involving Janie. The porch is a constant character throughout the novel, and Hurstons usage of both personification and symbolism bring the reader closer to Janie and her growing faith in herself, along with her increasing rejection of a conventional lifestyle. As Janie changes, so does the porchs meaning, echoing Janies childhood belief that we are all ever-changing.

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