Marriage is usually perceived as a momentous event that finally unites man and wife as equals. However, in Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie, the protagonist, faces the contrary. Although her second husband, Jody, treated her as an equal during the beginning of their relationship, she eventually is treated as a lesser part of their union as he asserts his dominance over her. After the death of Jody, Janie eventually found Tea Cake, who treated her fairly throughout their relationship, as shown through his natural willingness and patience to teach her how to play checkers. With their relationship, Janie experienced a marriage where she had the right to make her own decisions and express herself. Hurston uses the checkerboard as a symbol to show that marriage is like a game, and like a game, marriage requires both partners to play fair. As Janie’s relationship with Jody progressed through the novel, Jody eventually took more control over Janie’s actions. Although she was the mayor’s wife, Janie’s abilities as an individual were limited due to her role of being a man’s wife. In fact, there were times were Janie “fought back with her tongue… but it didn’t do her any good” as Jody kept on fighting for her “submission” (71). As Jody continues to make Janie submit, less of her individuality is present as she is reduced to the ideal wife in Jody’s eyes. He does this by covering her hair, confining her to the store, and insults her. Again, In one scene,
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysShow More
Jody exhibits towards Janie, forcing her to wear a head rag and covering an essential feature that contributes to her self expression. Then, as well as Jody's constant demand for perfection, when he “gits on [Janie] ever now and then when she make a little mistakes round de store”, the townspeople present the inequality of power dynamics in Janie’s relationship (Eyes 49). Janie is depicted as a weak and obedient follower rather than her own person with thoughts. Through their inputs, Hurston entails the heavy baggage the protagonist shoulders from their treatment received in the relationship. By including others'
In the novel How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas Foster discusses the importance of Geography in literature, particularly the idea that “ when writers send characters south, it’s so they could run amok” (Foster 179). This idea emerges in Zora Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God as Janie travels to discover her identity. Janie feels tied down by the people in her life, particularly her husband Joe in Eatonville. She comments that he “wanted me tuh sit wid folded hands and sit dere.
“Jaine, if you think Ah aims to tole you off and make a god outa you, youse wrong. Ah wants to make a wife outa you,” says Jody, knowing he only wants Janie for her looks (29). Jody displays an act of respecting Janie at the beginning of the book, but his act doesn’t last very long. His desire for Janie was only until her looks, nothing beyond that. He would never let Janie act on her own, and always disregarded the things Janie wants to do, “Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no speech-makin’.
Instead, she runs away with a new acquaintance named Jody even against her grandmother's wishes. In her second marriage to Jody Starks, Janie is stuck in the same loop oppressed again. Her husband Jody seeks to control every aspect of her life, from the way she dresses to the people she associates
To begin with, Curley’s wife is pressured by society to fit into the cookie cutter image of what a married woman should act like in the 1920s and 1930s; during the time the book was written
Jody controlled major aspects of Janie’s life, such as her appearance, when he forces her to keep her hair up. Janie does not like that Jody feels the need to control her: “This business of the head-rag irked her endlessly. But Jody was set on it... that was because Joe never told Janie how jealous he was” (Hurston 55).
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.
In her epiphany from Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie realizes her intrinsic capacity as an individual, and frees herself from Jody’s covetous ways in the act of letting down her hair. In the quote, “She tore off the kerchief from her plentiful hair... the glory was there,” Janie’s hair symbolizes her power and strength because it holds glory. By Janie releasing her hair, she finally notices the greatness that she has, which allows her to now view herself as eminent individual whom has independence. Because Jody made her tie her hair up as a device to hinder her individuality and identity in their marriage, he is intimidated by her reluctance to comply with his controlling demands.
1. Unlike Janie’s previous husbands, Tea Cake treats Janie with compassion and respect. In addition, he loves Janie for her personality instead of her looks and her role as a woman (housewife). 2. The speech characteristic that Tea Cake encourages Janie with is truth.
Over time, women have slowly gained more and more rights. They have become more prominent in society, making more decisions that influence their lives, as well as the lives of other people. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston highlights how the gender roles of men and women differ including women being less powerful than men, how Janie had the strength and determination to gain her own happiness, and how stereotypical roles should not play a part in society. Some people view Janie as a woman who should be dependent on her husband, following the traditional roles of women, being satisfied with her life as the less powerful sex.
During Janie's first marriage, she outwardly conforms to the societal view of marriage, and the domestic wife, while inwardly questioning if she can learn to disregard her true
Tea Cake’s playfulness, adventure, happiness, protection, respect and his artistic aspect brought back the vision of the peer tree and constituted a time-based definition of what natural marriage means. It seemed perfect to Janie. Tea Cake treated Janie as a grown up woman with a young soul and a perfect beauty while acknowledging her freedom to choose. Freedom to stay or to leave by constantly reminding her that she has the keys to the kingdom (Hurston, 121). Tea Cake was the source of happiness for Janie and the closest image to the peer tree, she learned to give, serve and be served with him.
Janie shows determination as she persists and struggles to define love on her own terms through her marriages. First, her determination shows when Janie runs away with Jody. She becomes aware that her marriage with Logan does not satisfy her goals and dreams for love, so she takes a chance and marries Jody. Hurston states, “Janie hurried out of the front gate and turned south.
In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, she uses her characters to challenge the gender roles of that time. In her book, women are the submissive and weaker gender. They cannot gain power without a influential or wealthy man backing her up which is usually connected by marriage. Considering since women have no powers in society, in marriages they also don’t have much power, therefore the husband suppresses their wives and doesn’t give them any freedom. Because the females are scared of the males, they don't fight back and just keep it in.
As we look at marriages in today’s day and age, it is difficult for a man to be more dominant over his wife. Women are allowed to work in any profession they choose, and do not need to rely on a man for money. However, centuries ago in the progressive era, men were superior and dominant over their wife. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novel “The Yellow Wallpaper” portrays this type of image where a woman is controlled and trapped in her marriage by her husband John. In this era, they considered articles exposing issues like this as muckraking.