Their Eyes Were Watching God Plot Diagram

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Their Eyes Were Watching God Plot Diagram

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Activity Overview


A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.


Plot Diagram
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Example Plot Diagram for Their Eyes Were Watching God

Exposition

Janie Crawford returns to Eatonville, and her old friends want to know where she’s been. She’s now in her 40s, and she’s been married three times. She tells her story to her friend Pheoby. Janie was first married off to an older rich man named Logan Killicks by her Grandmother, but Janie was not happy with him. She meets and runs off with a man named Joe Starks who takes her to a new African American town, called Eatonville, where he buys land and becomes the de facto mayor.


Conflict

Throughout Janie’s first two marriages, she keeps expecting to find happiness; however, she finds herself restless and unsatisfied. She’s not in love with Logan Killicks, and he’s planning on making her work the land. As Joe’s wife, he keeps her on a tight leash. He is jealous of the way the other men in the community look at her, especially her beautiful hair, so he makes sure she ties it up and that she doesn’t interact with the other townspeople.


Rising Action

Eventually, Janie gets so angry at Joe’s insistence on keeping her separated from the townspeople in Eatonville that she lashes out at him and he strikes her across the face. Their relationship is fractured, and Joe grows ill and dies. Janie inherits his wealth, and meets a younger man named Vergible Woods, also known as Tea Cake. Janie falls head over heels in love with Tea Cake, they marry, and they move to the Everglades.


Climax

Janie finds happiness with Tea Cake in their marriage, despite an initial rocky start. However, disaster strikes a hurricane that forces the evacuation of the Everglades. Initially, Tea Cake refused to leave, but then seeing Lake Okeechobee flood, he and Janie join others in running for higher ground. Janie ends up in the water and grabs onto a cow with a dog on its back. The dog tries to attack her, and Tea Cake intervenes. He’s bitten in the face by the dog, which is rabid.


Falling Action

Janie and Tea Cake return to the Everglades to help with the post-hurricane cleanup. Tea Cake falls ill a few weeks later, refusing to eat or drink. The doctor diagnoses him with rabies. Tea Cake finds out that Mrs. Turner’s brother is back in town and becomes jealous and suspicious that Janie is seeing him; his jealousy is amplified by the disease taking over his brain. He pulls a pistol on her, and Janie shoots him with a rifle in defense.


Resolution

Janie is put on trial for Tea Cake’s murder. While most of the black community is against her, the white women take her side. Dr. Simmons testifies on Janie’s behalf about Tea Cake’s disease. Janie is acquitted, and she holds an elaborate funeral for Tea Cake. She is devastated. Janie eventually returns to Eatonville, where she is telling her story to Pheoby. Pheoby promises to curtail any nasty talk about Janie among the women. Janie finds her soul finally feeling at peace because of the love that she had found with Tea Cake.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of Their Eyes Were Watching God.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.

Plot Diagram Template

Template


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