Marriage In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

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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,

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