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).
This incident marked the “point of no return” in their relationship where mutual respect was lost as Joe shamelessly hit Janie in public, causing their ultimate downfall that spiraled until Joe’s eventual passing. The impact of this scene is further emphasized by the extremely blunt syntax Hurston applies. There is no room for readers to “read between the lines”, as the simplicity of Hurston’s words cut like a knife. This syntax also aids in emphasizing a turning point along Janie’s journey of self-discovery; it almost acts as a catalyst to close this chapter of Janie's story and start anew. This scene in the novel can be contrasted with Janie's relationship with Tea Cake in chapters ten through twelve.
After Joe’s death Janie feels a sudden wave of relief, and freedom comes over her, ”She sent her face to Joe'sJoes funeral, and herself went rolllicking with the springtime across the world” (Hurston 129). At Joe’s funeral Janie had to pretend to be sad and put on a mask that she was grieving and mourning the death of Joe Starks but in reality, Janie was happy, she felt free, she could now do what she wanted whenever she wanted. Janie no longer had someone to sit there and control or or tell her what to do as stated here:,”For the first time in her life she is free to make her own decisions and live the way she wants to, rather than being told how to live it” (Davidson), all she has is herself and she is happy with that, especially after all that she has been through. Joe restricts Janie on who she is able to talk to and what she can do, she no longer has that holding her back so she can really dive into her journey of finding herself now.
Through the disbelief of societal values, Janie escapes the internalized hatred of those who believe in such rhetoric. After running away with Tea Cake, Janie meets several figures in the book, most notably Mrs. Turner, a self-hating black woman. During Janie's interactions with her, Hurston writes, “Through indiscriminate suffering, men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion... Half gods are worshiped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood…
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.
Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over” (Hurston 72). Janie figures out that Joe is not the man she had married when the “image of Jody tumbled down” she begins to understand that Joe was not at all significant to her because he never cared for her and instead he was a bad influence. Janie figures out that he “never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams” the life she desires of with Joe Starks, is an allusion and Janie’s dreams are once again crushed. Janie is deceived by Joe because he represents empty dreams for Janie, he was a “drape [for] her dreams” Joe took advantage of Janie and manipulates her to do excessive labour for him in the store and constantly silences her. Furthermore, Joe Starks never treats Janie with respect as he views her as an object and spends his time commanding her.
Joseph’s Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces is a valuable novel for college students because it allows the reader to apply common elements in mythic adventures that easily connect and explain the journey of the protagonist. In Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, offers an excellent example of The Hero’s Journey. The book follows Janie Mae Crawford on her adventure in finding herself. The adventure is described within three main steps that make up The Hero’s Journey; the departure, the initiation, and the return. Through these steps, we follow Janie as she leaves her known world and travels into the unknown world.
“Hurston became the most successful and most significant black woman writer of the first half of the 20th century. Over a career that spanned more than 30 years, she published four novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, numerous short stories, and several essays, articles and plays” ("Zora Neale Hurston. " The Official Website of Zora Neale Hurston). One of the most famous and a accomplishment was a novel that she had written called, Their Eyes Were Watching God, which received great praise. “In Their Eyes Were Watching God, the novel is a brilliant study of black folk and their language, their stories, and their mannerisms.
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).
Janie’s relation with Joes till his death is another step to realize the real meaning of domination and liberation. The moment that Janie kills her third husband Tea Cake is a must in the novel. Although Tea Cake liberated Janie from two different kinds of domination for a period of time but he turns to practice another kind of domination through his physical abuse and his jealousy; so his murder is a momentary freedom for Janie. Janie in her development and growth contends to replace the old culture concept that places women’s wishes on material and economic demands by love and affection.
In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, the long-lasting effects of slavery have taken a toll on Janie Crawford. Janie’s grandmother was raped by her master and had a child named Leafy. Leafy, although not born into slavery, endured a similar fate, which led her to run away, leaving her mother to raise her child, Janie. Janie’s appearance, showing strong European features, was both praised and shamed by society. This double standard was created by racism and was able to remain present due to segregation.
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.
3. Janie wears an apron, a head rag, and overalls at the most significant points in her life. Analyze the way in which the clothing reflects her inner self and how Hurston's use of clothing is symbolic of Janie's development throughout the novel. The novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, written by Zora Neale Hurston is a novel about a woman named Janie, an african american in the 1920’s.
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.
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” is a novel written by Zora Neale Hurston. The novel portrays Janie, a middle aged black woman who tells her friend Pheoby Watson what has happened to her husband Tea Cake and her adventure. The resulting telling of her story portrays most of the novel. Throughout the novel, Zora Neale Hurston presents the theme of love, or being in a relationship versus freedom and independence, that being in a relationship may hinder one’s freedom and independence. Janie loves to be outgoing and to be able to do what she wants, but throughout the book the relationships that she is in with Logan,Jody and Tea Cake, does not allow her to do that.