In Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie Crawford-KIllicks-Starks-Woods experiences three very different marriages. First, she is forced to marry Logan Killicks, a man she does not have any feelings for. After a little more than a year, she leaves Logan and marries Jody Starks. The marriage with Jody starts out well, but it ends up bad. After Jody dies, Janie spends nine months basking in her newfound freedom.
Janie realizes what she deserves in a marriage and runs off with Starks to live a happy life with him. Things do not go as planned for Janie as she starts to realize how manipulative Joe Starks is of her. Starks has full control over Janie with his tyrannical behavior and takes things even further when he establishes complete dominance over Janie. Janie soon realizes that Starks has taken advantage of her “It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams.
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.
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.
After reading Hibben’s critique I agree with the statements she makes. Hibben’s talks about how Tea Cake and Janie’s relationship was different from the others. When Janie was with Mister Killicks she didn’t care about his “land, and his sagging belly, and his toenails that looked like mules’ feet,” she wanted love not material things. Janie wasn’t pleased with all the nice things she could obtain from marrying Mister Killicks, she was looking for the happiness love would give her, not what Killicks had. This can also explain why Janie ran away with Joe Starks.
In this fiction novel by Zora Neale Hurston, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, Janie- The main character- is constantly going through emotional journeys to try and find herself. We read about her different stage from a young child to a full-grown woman. We see how she gets to that point through plenty of heartbreaks, from her grandmother and especially guys. she significantly changes on the inside and out due to many things but after she leaves Logan -who crushes her marriage dreams- to be with Jody-who makes her feel like her dreams are restores- as time goes on their relationship goes down the drain and her views change from idealistic to realistic, like when Jody is in his death bed and blames her for him being there. As we know, when Janie had to marry Logan she gets her dreams of a beautiful and happy marriage crushed.
This marriage ended when Janie ran away with Joe Stark, a man that she fell in love with and thought could give her the love absent between her and Logan. But Janie soon realized that her second marriage wouldn’t turn out better than her first. Joe was just as controlling and degrading as Logan. He hardly expressed his love for Janie and spoke to her like an incompetent child. Janie didn 't start living until Joe died and she met Teacake.
Her husband demises Janie´s presence among others “..mah wife don´t know nothin´´bout no speech-makin´. Ah never married her for nothin´lak dat. She´s uh woman and her place is in de home.” (p.43). Joe Starks completely controls Janie, made her hide her hair, didn´t allow her to participate in conversations and games. After Joe had assaulted her after she failed cooking a nice meal, Janie became aware of her faulty image of their loving relationship, she had never truly loved him.
She could be free of the pain and continue her development as a woman through courage. Tea Cake may have been her final stage in the novel, but he sure wouldn’t be her last. He taught her what love and devotion was. And even though Janie had to be hurt by different personalities and individuals to find her identity, she overcame the curveballs thrown at her. Janie led herself to the most important accomplishment in her life, which was finding the strength, courage, and love within herself, in order to obtain her freedom and independent development as a woman.