Gender Roles In Their Eyes Were Watching God

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In Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston develops a contrast between the male and female genders of the time period of the story, and the male and female gender of today. Hurston wrote this novel in or about a time when women were considered simple-minded , women were disempowered by the empowered man in the relationship, and women can only gain power through marriage. But when Janie kisses Johnny Taylor, her view of men changes after seeing “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”…show more content…
The novel 's plot is driven by Janie 's series of relationships with different men: a kiss with Johnny Taylor, followed by marriages with Logan Killicks, Jody Starks and finally, Tea Cake. Logan Killicks and Jody Starks see Janie as defined by her relationship with them, and expect her to be obedient, silent and proper. Jody sees her as a kind of ornament that bolsters his social standing and that helps to justify his efforts to assert control over everyone, men and women alike. Tea Cake, in contrast, defines himself not by political power but rather by his physical strength and ability to have fun. Even while Tea Cake treats Janie as an equal, there still exists a certain power struggle in Janie 's relationship with him, as her increasing ability to recognize her needs as an individual throughout the novel emerges in response to Tea Cake 's treatment of her. Thus it is still possible to see Tea Cake as having a degree of control over Janie until the moment of his death. In each of her relationships, we watch Janie lose parts of herself under the forces of male domination. The men are not the only characters who see the traditional take on gender relations, where the men are dominant, and the women are obedient, as necessary and
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