Janie's Expectations

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How can it be argued that a woman who is willing to defy the expectations of society and the comfort of financial stability in order to find her own happiness is not a powerful role model for young readers? In the Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie is a powerful role model for young readers because she pursues her own happiness by leaving a horrific marriage, engaging in hobbies that she enjoys, and marrying someone that she is happy with. Throughout Janie’s life there are many obstacles blocking her path to happiness. However, instead of allowing those obstacles to prevent her from becoming happy, Janie works to overcome the obstacles and find her path to happiness. Janie chases what she believes will make her …show more content…

In Janie’s time, women are expected to refrain from engaging in certain hobbies and activities, regardless of whether they enjoy them or not. Janie, however, ignores the obstacle that is society’s expectations and engages in the hobbies that she enjoys. First, Janie decides to play checkers. In Janie’s time, checkers is considered to be a game that should be played exclusively by men. Janie, however, decides to play checkers because she believes that playing checkers will make her happy. When Tea Cake asks her if she wants to play checkers, Janie says, “Yes, Ah do, and then agin Ah don’t know whether Ah do or not, ‘cause nobody ain’t never showed me how” (95), referring to the fact that she wants to play checkers with him, despite society as a whole objecting to her playing checkers and refusing to teach her how to play. Janie, regardless of society telling her not to play checkers, decides to learn how to play checkers because she believes that playing checkers will lead to her obtaining happiness. Not only does Janie decide to play checkers to make her happy, but she also decides to go fishing to make her happy. The narrator says, “They caught two or three and got home just before day” (102), describing the way that Janie went with Tea Cake to go fishing. Fishing, like checkers, is considered by society to be a hobby that should only be participated in by men. However, as she does when she learns to play checkers, Janie decides to ignore the obstacle that is society’s expectations and pursue happiness by going fishing. By learning to play checkers and going fishing, Janie pursues happiness and overcomes the societal obstacle in her

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