Theme Of Empowerment In Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God, readers watched Janie struggle with her sense of self and her place in the world. As a young child she had a dream of traveling to ‘the horizon,’ which symbolized a future full of possibilities. However, by the time Janie reached her teenage years, she had been forced into a marriage and her opportunities seemed to have faded away. As Janie becomes more independent, she realizes that her future is still full of possibilities and all she has to do is rid herself of those that hold her back. Throughout the book Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston taught readers that empowerment only develops when one is able to make independent decisions. Only when one stops relying on others will one’s own …show more content…

Self-expression is a form of empowerment which Janie demonstrates throughout the novel as her confidence grows. When Janie expresses her emotions and thoughts, she comes to know herself. Throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God, as a young married wife, Janie is constantly patronized and overruled by Joe’s wishes. Her inability to make her own decisions prevented her from forming connections with the people around her. At one point Janie chimes into a discussion being held by Joe and some of the other men in the town. Joe quickly shuts her up with a few harsh words and commands her to leave, “‘You gettin’ too moufy, Janie...Go fetch me de checkerboard and de checkers’” (p. 77). Janie is actively prevented from interacting with the other townspeople by Joe. He feels that as a woman, her contributions to conversation are worthless. Eventually, his repeated message sticks in Janie’s head and she stops trying to initiate conversation altogether. After Joe’s death, Janie begins to interact with the townspeople, “Janie talked and laughed in the store at times…” (p. 91). Before Joe’s death, Janie was not allowed to get friendly with the townsfolk because of Joe’s control over her. However, after his death her newfound freedom gave her the opportunity to show others that she is more than Joe had led them to …show more content…

When Janie lived with Joe, she stayed silent in fear of provoking his temper. One situation where this occurs is when Janie talks about their arguments, “Time came when she fought back with her tongue as best she could, but it didn’t do her any good, it just made Joe do more. He wanted her submission and he’d keep on fighting until he felt he had it” (p. 71). Janie early attempts to stand up for herself were snuffed out as she suffered from Joe’s intolerance. Joe believed a wife is someone who is more of a trophy than a person. Eventually this leads Janie to keeping her emotions inside and to stop expressing herself to Joe, “She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about” (p. 72). At this point in Janie’s life, silence is an act of submission to Joe’s dominance. As she learns that she is worthy of human connection after Joe’s death, her power over her speech reaches a new point. At Janie’s trial, her silence is an act of newfound authority and control over herself. She stays silent as she hears the harsh, judgemental words of people she once called friends, “She felt them pelting her with dirty thoughts. They were there with their tongues cocked and loaded, the only real weapon left…” (p. 186). Though Janie may have once stayed silent in shame and sadness, she now sees

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