Over the decades, women have progressively moved towards embracing independence. The role of women has transformed as females everywhere are breaking the social stigma and the stereotypical obligations the world has put on them. From the duty of housewife to the position of CEO, opportunities for women have grown into a plethora of possibilities that is never ending. In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston prolifically displays Janie’s metamorphosis as a female in the Post Civil-War era. Throughout her life, Janie is expected to follow the clear social standards for women that are plaguing her community. Janie is told by a fellow member of her community that “A pretty doll-baby lak you is made to sit on de front porch …show more content…
Because Janie is racially mixed, and therefore beautiful, as well as the mayor’s wife, Janie is held to a different standard than the women around her. Thus, when Janie tells a neighbor that she is getting a mule for plowing, he responds by saying, “You behind a plow! You ain’t got no mo’ business wid uh plow than uh hog is got wid a holiday!” (Hurston 29). This reaction from the man is typical in her society because hard and dirty labor is seen as a man’s task. Janie further reveals the boundaries and restrictions put on her when explaining, “When Ah wasn’t in de store he wanted me tuh jes sit wid folded hands and sit dere” (Hurston 112). The mindset of the individuals around Janie restricts her from becoming her true self and degrades her to an attractive female with nothing to offer but her looks. After the death of her second husband, “she burnt up every one of her …show more content…
Janie never lets the remarks of others define her. As Janie says “Ah wants to utilize myself all over”, she replaces the labels put on her with a pure belief in herself and determination (Hurston 112). With her apron, Janie symbolically throws off the weight and repression of her first marriage when “She untied it and flung it on a low bush beside the road…” (Hurston 33). While doing this, Janie is leaving her first husband for another man, dedicated to make a better life for herself. But, Janie also faces negativity in her second marriage. Although, as she faces this negativity, she holds her ground. As her second husband is harshly commenting on her appearance, Janie stands up for herself by stating “But Ah’m uh woman every inch of me, and Ah know it” (Hurston 179). This fixed and unwavering mindset of who she is gets Janie to the point where “She got so she could tell big stories herself from listening to the rest” (Hurston 134). This is a proud moment for Janie as she now can engage in public conversations and is no longer restrained to keeping her thoughts to herself. Regardless of who believes in her, if Janie never believes in herself, she never could have blossomed into the bold and proud woman she
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Janie the protagonist of the book Their Eyes Were Watching God is introduced as a forty-year-old harlot by the woman on the porch. “They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughs” (pg 2). From this porch Janie’s best friend Pheoby comes in to save her rep, Pheoby refutes, saying “You mad ‘cause she didn’t stop and tell us all her business” (pg 3). From this friendship we see that Janie is not a harlot she is just the talk of the neighborhood; she describes it as “Mouth-Almighty … got me up in they mouth now” (pg 5) . She then replies to the gossipers saying “They don’t know if life is a mess of corn-meal dumplings, and if love is a bed-quilt” (pg 6).
Janie was held back on a lot of her life just because she was trying to live her life for someone else, and she made a decision that her grandmother wanted her to do. She married a man that her grandmother introduces her to, not by choice, her grandmother thought that was the best bet for her. Janie first husband
Janie Crawford Killiks Starks Woods is the main character in the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, where she learns what's it's like to go from marriage to marriage looking for love. In the novel, Hurston utilizes the pivotal moment when Janie realizes that marriage doesn’t always mean love to show Janie's coming of age and psychological development which is used to show that love doesn't always come first. Logan Killicks was Janie's first marriage, which was brought about after Nanny (her grandmother) decided that she need to be married after she caught Janie and a young boy kissing when she was 16. After that Janie finds herself being thrown into some random marriage with some man she barely knew, and for a reason
Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see” (265). Hurston beautifully depicts this image of Janie’s soul emerging as a statement of her love for Tea Cake and of her vulnerability when she is with him. Likewise, at the end of the story, Janie calls on her soul to come out yet again at the moment in which she reflects upon her life with Tea Cake and in a way thanks him for allowing her to be free.
Racism can be defined as prejudice, discrimination, or contributions to a system that perpetuates the idea that one race is inferior to another. Racism was heavily enforced throughout American history, specifically in the early 1900’s. Coincidentally, this was the same time feminists, or women’s-rights activists, were in the in the midst of their fight for equality. Feminism is the theory that women should be treated equally to men in terms of social, political, and economic matters. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston uses the protagonist, Janie, to convey both concepts through her journey to self-love and acceptance.
Janie expresses this by stating, “ Tain’t dat ah worries over Joe’s death, Pheoby. Ah jus’ loves dis freedom” (93). This demonstrates Janie’s current state of freedom, and suggests that she is finally free from the shackles of marriage that Joe established upon her with male dominance, abuse, and inequality. All these discontents in Janie’s marriage are embodied by the head rag because it showcases the mindset of Joe, which was having Janie unwaveringly submit to his commands and not giving her a say in their decisions. Furthermore, Janie showcases her rejection with her man by rejecting clothing that connects her to him, but once she found the man that fulfilled her desires in loving her, Janie
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.
The United States Constitution states that the country values liberty, life, and happiness for all of its citizens. These three values shape the ideal American experience. Most view it as living freely, where all men, women, and races are created equal, and where oppression of genders and races does not exist. In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, however, Zora Neale Hurston challenges the traditional view of this experience by illustrating how gender roles and racism change it, manifesting that it is not close to what the average citizen goes through, especially if he or she is black.
Hurston describes Janie’s quest to finding love and to recovering herself, though
Hurston tells the story of Janie, a black woman who because of her grandmother experiences and beliefs was forced to marry into a loveless marriage with Logan Killicks, a hard-working farmer who had 60 acres of land and could provide for Janie. 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.
Women are confined to single roles and are expected to be submissive and respectful. When Joe married Janie, he forced her into a role of subservience. Hurston indicates that Joe attempted to mold Janie into what white women do on a daily basis which is to “sit on their high stools on the porches of their house and relax.” Doing this, Joe believes he is granting his wife all the wishes she ever wanted while neglecting the fact that Janie takes pleasure in the simple things in life like chatting, laughing, fishing and dancing. “Janie [especially] loved the conversation[s]” that took place on the porch and sometimes “she thought up good stories on the mule, but Joe had forbidden her to indulge” because he didn’t want her to talk after those “trashy people” (Page 104).
As Janie becomes a more self-assured woman, she drifts further and further away from the cultural norm. This is illustrated through the different relationships she develops on her quest. She begins reliant upon Nanny and marries Logan, both who represent the older generation with more traditional values. She then runs away from the “protection” that Logan provides for Joe Starks, who represents stability and ambition. Janie’s first two disastrous marriages help her eliminate the possibility of ever finding happiness with a more “conventional” man, one that society would approve of.
“Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression” (Nelson Mandela). Women throughout history has been shown to be treated unequally compared to men, they are heavily repressed by stereotypes of society and by men who believe they are superior compared to women. Zora Neale Hurston explores the roles of women in the novel, Their Eyes were Watching God, through the characters of Janie and her second husband, Joe Starks. Even with two different marriages, Janie never got the chance to be who she really is. The men in her life had held Janie back from what she wanted.