In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, we follow our protagonist, Janie, through a journey of self-discovery. We watch Janie from when she was a child to her adulthood, slowly watching her ideals change while other dreams of hers unfortunately die. This is shown when Jane first formulates her idea of love, marriage, and intimacy by comparing it to a pear tree; erotic, beautiful, and full of life. After Janie gets married to her first spouse, Logan Killicks, she doesn’t see her love fantasy happening, but she waits because her Nanny tells her that love comes after marriage. Janie, thinking that Nanny is wise beyond her years, decides to wait. But, as Logan continues to snap at Janie day to day, she becomes even more uninterested. While avoiding Logan, sitting under a tree, Janie comes to a realization; “She knew that marriage did …show more content…
Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.” This realization made by Janie supports one of the biggest themes in this novel, which is that the concept of innocence and womanhood can’t exist at the same time. Because Janie finally lets go of her “childish fantasy”, her innocence is lost and she is now a woman. The theme of lost innocence in exchange for womanhood is also prevalent in Hurston’s story Sweat. This idea is one of the reasons that Sykes and Delia’s relationship begins to fall apart when we meet them. One example of innocence without womanhood is when Janie first creates her pear tree fantasy. When Janie first sees the bee pollinating the flower, she is only sixteen years old. The scene in general seems to have an erotic undertone to it. Janie watches the bee “sink into the sanctum of a bloom,”
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Sit Still, Look Pretty Sitting on the front porch of a house isn’t exactly how women should spend every day of their lives. The modern woman has a busy life, working every day, as well as participating in outside activities such as clubs, sports, or meetings. Women in the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, play a very different role by doing almost nothing except providing at the service of their loved ones. The main character, Janie Crawford does this everyday of her life for twenty years while she is married.
While he is much more appealing and romantic than Logan, Janie still realizes that he cannot offer her the “pear tree love” that she has been searching for. During this marriage, Janie begins to ask herself many new questions. It is during Joe’s inauguration as mayor that the climax of their relationship is reached; when he refuses to let her speak for herself, Janie comes to the realization that having the option to make her own decisions is something that she has never really had. This awareness gives her a new perspective of love, which leads to Janie’s inward resentment of Joe. While she wishes to join in the checker games and conversations on the porch, she conforms to his commands by avoiding them.
Though the novel represents many feministic ideas in relation to marriage, it should not be read and discussed solely from this perspective. This statement is commented by Ramsey who claims that the story is “both a precursor to the modern feminist agenda yet also a reactionary tale embalming Hurston’s tender passions for a very traditional male” (1994: 38). In spite of the fact that the scholar agrees that Janie gains some self-belief and self-realization in the course of time, he still perceives her as a woman who cannot survive without a man by her side who would support her. It seems that she has a strong need to have someone by her side to support her when something goes wrong. This argument is confirmed by another researcher, Jennifer Jordan, who states that the protagonist “never perceives herself as an independent woman” (1988: 115).
The novel begins with Janie returning home following her journey, where she is greeted with hostility through the malicious gossip of the women. Comments such as “what she doin coming back here in dem overhalls,” “what dat ole forty year ole ’ oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal,” or “she de one been doin’ wrong,” demonstrates how Janie defies the social norm (Hurston 2-3). The gossip that is shared amongst the women places Janie in a negative light. She is seen as this rebellious individual who goes against what her community accepts. For example, Janie’s rebellious nature is displayed through her decision to fall for a younger man, Tea Cake, to wear overalls, and to wear her hair long.
Anthropologist, and Harlem Renaissance writer and activist Zora Neale Hurston sought to share the “untouched, raw” characters of the South with her readers. Zora masterfully incorporates metaphors, imagery, idioms, and personification into her narratives as she shares her biography, folk tales, voodoo customs, and the social context of black life. Similar to Dust Tracks on a Road Zora Neale Hurston's autobiography, she uses metaphors and imagery to rise from her childhood poverty in the rural South to a leader taking over a captivating movement of her time, the Harlem Renaissance. In Mules and Men, a black America’s folklore who grew up hearing the songs and sermons, sayings and tall tales that have formed an oral history of the South since the time of slavery. Figurative language in Hurston’s work is used in order to convey its themes and messages and make the language richer and deeper.
Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid.” She let herself experience an intense level of fascination towards relationships, and because her grandma was encouraging this, it seemed justified. In her eyes, it’s completely normal for somebody to chase after another person for the sake of just being in a relationship, which can be distracting and overwhelming to
In Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston expresses the superior upper hand that men has over women. Hurston uses the main character Jaine, to show how in a male dominant society women can become stronger, more empowered, and have a set main purpose in life other than the stereotypes that are brought upon them.. Despite the fact that women are brought up in a male dominant society, women can often find themselves being able to overcome the typical male dominant obstacles. Women are looked at as weak and very dependent individuals who can’t think for themselves. However, with motivation and learning experiences Hurston suggests that women can overcome anything.
It was a mercy. Offered by a human” (195). In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie’s grandmother Nanny makes Janie marry someone she does not love. Janie does not want to marry Logan, but she concedes to her grandmother’s demands. The grandmother merely wants Janie’s life to be secure and safe; the grandma did not want Janie to turn out like Janie’s mother.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie’s most significant relationship issues come with her second husband, Joe Starks. In Chapter 6, Janie is forced to deal with Joe’s controlling nature, in which he will not allow her to spend time with the people of Eatonville or even show her hair in public. The turning point of their relationship occurs in the next chapter, as Janie and Joe get into a public argument. After Janie had made a mistake while cutting tobacco for a customer, they argued and Joe said, “T’ain’t no use in gettin’ all mad, Janie, ‘cause Ah mention you ain’t no young gal no’. Nobody in heah ain’t lookin’ for no wife outa yuh.
(Hurston 55). By using phrases such as “set on it” and capitalizing words such as “not,” Hurston emphasizes the fact that Joe was not going to change his decision or let Janie violate it under any circumstances. Not only does Janie not have the courage to speak up about her discomfort with the head rag, but Joe never gives her the chance to do so either. It is paramount to note that Joe is the person of power in the relationship between himself and Janie because of his role as mayor of the town and his assertion of this role throughout their relationship. Though this shouldn’t matter in terms of their relationship, Joe continually characterizes Janie as being “the mayor’s wife,” giving Janie no opportunity to express the way she feels, in private or public.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Hurston develops the theme of love and power with repetition. Throughout this novel Janie varies from marriages with men who desire wealth and power. However, eventually Janie finds a true love in Tea Cake. The most pervasive theme in Their Eyes Were Watching God is the search for love. Zora Hurston develops this theme through the repetition of relationships.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston wrote in a way that conveyed a message through her characters, using a storytelling "frame" to express her ideas. Hurston did not stop by means to get her point across. Hurston uses Janie’s thoughts and actions to represents how during Reconstruction, African Americans were trying to find their identities and achieve their dreams of independence. At the start of the novel Hurston begins to illustrate how African Americans in Eatonville feel about their lives.
Foster develops the concept that an illness is never just an illness in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. This is evident in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God through the symbolism of the illnesses that impact Janie’s life. Foster explains that a prime literary disease “should have strong symbolic or metaphorical possibilities” (Foster 224). Hurston utilizes this concept in her novel, the characters developing illnesses that represent Janie’s freedom and independence.
Nanny did not believe in love, so Janie had little guidance in how one can find love. Janie does not realize until the end, that one must “go there tuh know there”(192). In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston shows how society and influences can cause someone to hide himself and conform to the expectations of others. Janie was a strong person inside but conformity hid her from the rest of the world.
The “Rock Pile” by James Baldwin and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston are two stories that examined black male resistance to emasculation. The men in these stories lived in patriarchal societies, and they reaped the benefits of a structure that favored men. In both of these stories, the male characters are dominant figures in their households, and when they felt like their manhood was being attacked, they retaliate viciously. In “Their eyes were watching god”