In the beginning, Janie is captivated by a bee that associates with the blossom of a flower. She sees a “bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom” and meet with the “love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree” which was “creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight” (p 11). Hurston incorporates the bee and the blossom symbol to represent Janie’s desire for love’s pleasure. The author reveals to the audience of how she is taken away by the overwhelming desire and passion shown from the “creaming” of the tree and the bee. This marks her virginity as she is presented pleasingly to the desire of lovemaking, yet also conserve her purity through creating her expectations for her later affectionate lovers. Further, Hurston portrays the shattering of Janie’s bee and blossom dream when she is left to realize that being with Joe and his personality is an illusion as he slaps her. She “stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought” and saw that “her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered” causing her to have “no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man” (p 72). Hurston revealing Joe’s actual image to its reader depicts Janie’s apprehension of how he was never the man of her dreams and just persuaded herself to believe that he was just a better man than Logan. She is left with the
It’s amazing that one state can have within it places that differ greatly in all aspects—people, surrounding, weather, and feeling. Zora Neale Hurston exemplifies this phenomenon in Their Eyes Were Watching God. There are a multitude of differences between Eatonville, FL and the Everglades; each place represents a certain theme or feeling to Janie (the main character) and their differences each contribute to the meaning of the novel as a whole.
The struggle for women to have their own voice has been an ongoing battle. However, the struggle for African American women to have their own voice and independence has been an ongoing conflict. In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie struggles a majority of her life discovering her own voice by challenging many traditional roles that are set by society during this time. Hongzhi Wu, the author of “Mules and Women: Identify and Rebel—Janie’s Identity Quest in ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God,’” recognizes the trend of African American women being suppressed by making a comparison between animals throughout the novel and Janie. Wu argues that there are ultimately two depictions of the mule that the reader remembers and compares both of these interpretations to Janie’s transformation throughout the novel. While Wu’s argument is sound in the fact that it recognizes certain stereotypes African American women faced during this time, Wu fails to recognize Janie’s sexuality in depth as her major push away from the animalistic pressures she has faced.
The imagery of the bees and the pear tree are the catalyst of Janie’s coming-of-age, representing her first “springtime” and the awakening of her sexuality. The moment Janie sees the bee pollinating the blossoms on the pear tree is when she becomes aware of her sexuality. She finds herself empathizing with the blossoms; both being young and undergoing the springtime of life. Contrastingly, however, Janie has no “bees singing for her” like the blossoms do (Hurston 11). In Janie’s eyes, the relationship between the bee
Throughout the Novel Janie struggles with handling the opinions of others and allowing them to affect how she sees herself. For instance Hurston writes “some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships. Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon- for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you- and pinched it into such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her” (Hurston 89). Here Hurston demonstrates that others will always see things differently from one's perspective and Janie’s ongoing internal conflict with doing what would make her happy or doing what will satisfy those around her. However at the end of the novel Janie ultimately departs from the beliefs of others and displays self empowerment by disregarding the opinions of others over her actions. Similarly Hurston states “so she was free and the judge and everybody up there smiled with her and shook her hand. And the white women cried and stood around her like a protecting wall”(Hurston 188). This quote from the novel indicates that Janie displays self empowerment throughout the course of the novel and individual progress. This quote also shows the ideal of equality because although Janie is mixed she has always made her African
Evidently, Janie tried to achieve her desires for love by making affection similar to the marriage like the bee and the blossoming pear tree. Janie was a sixteen-year-old aspirant. She had glossy leaves and bursting buds while wanting to battle with life, but it seemed to elude her. Hence, she was seeking to find her singing bee through the
Janie’s first marriage escalates from her love of the blossoming pear tree where “She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days (chapter 2).” As Janie lays under the pear tree listening to the buzzing of the bees, “she saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight (chapter 2).” Janie suddenly thinks what she has just watched is indeed what marriage is. After she witnesses the “marriage” between the pear tree and the bee, Janie looks for similar marriages elsewhere (Weatherspoon,2008). At the age of sixteen, Janie is curious and wants answers. Johnny Taylor is coming up the road and before she knows it, Nanny “bolted upright and peered out of the window and saw Johnny Taylor lacerating her Janie with a kiss (chapter 2).” Janie was no longer a child but instead Nanny says, “Yeah, Janie, youse got yo’ womanhood on yuh (chapter 2).” Nanny demands Janie to get married immediately.
Janie’s outward appearance and her inward thoughts contrast following Joe’s death. She finally frees herself from his control only after he dies as she, “…tore off the kerchief…and let down her plentiful hair” (87). In freeing her hair, Janie begins to free herself from others’ control and social norms. However, she chooses to keep it tied up until after Jody’s funeral in order to keep appearances that she is grieving his passing in front of the townspeople. However, on the inside, Janie doesn’t really feel any sorrow and “sent her face to Joe’s funeral, and herself went rollicking with the springtime across the world” (88). It is only after Joe’s elaborate funeral that Janie shows her first act of freedom by burning “every one of her head rags and went about the house next morning with her hair in one thick braid swinging well below her waist” (89). She chose to let her hair be free from his domination, thus freeing herself from him overall and allowing herself to move onto the next journey in her life.
“’…but she don’t seem to mind at all. Reckon dey understand one ‘nother.’” A woman’s search for her own free will to escape the chains of other people in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Zora Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God follows protagonist Janie Mae Crawford’s journey into womanhood and her ultimate quest for self-discovery. Having to abruptly transition from childhood to adulthood at the age of sixteen, the story demonstrates Janie’s eternal struggle to find her own voice and realize her dreams through three marriages and a lifetime of hardships that come about from being a black woman in America in the early 20th century. Throughout the novel, Hurston uses powerful metaphors helping to “unify” (as Henry Louis Gates Jr. puts it) the novel’s themes and narrative; thus providing a greater understanding of Janie’s quest for selfhood. There are three significant metaphors in the novel that achieve this unity: the
Throughout the novel, Hurston describes Janie as a young woman with a compelling desire for seeking unconditional love. As Janie searches for her inner self, she begins life not knowing who she is. Janie endures harsh judgment from many people throughout the novel, which help build the qualities of independence and strength. Throughout everything she has learned, she matured and transitioned from a defiant teenager, to a woman in complete possession of herself. Janie 's quest for the “horizon” of herself finally lead her to a place in which she is defined, despite the society who denies her power because of her black ethnicity. The “horizon” demonstrates the distance one must travel in order to distinguish between illusion and reality, dream and truth, role and
Even from the midsts of her adolescence, Janie’s identity and beauty seemed to be unconventional. Janie states, "Dere wuz uh knotty head gal name Mayrella dat useter git mad every time she look at me. Mis’ Washburn useter dress me up in all de clothes her gran’chillun didn’t need no mo’ which still wuz better’n whut de rest uh de colored chillun had. And then she useter put hair ribbon on mah head fuh me tuh wear. Dat useter rile Mayrella uh lot. So she would pick at me all de time and put some others up tuh do de same.. Den they’d tell me not to be takin’ on over mah looks ‘cause they mama told ‘em ‘bout de hound dawgs huntin’ mah papa all night long." Even as a child, Janie is ostracized for one, having different hair, and uncommon beauty. This anecdote shows that women have hated Janie for her identity and beauty her entire life. Furthermore, Jody begins to make Janie wear a head-rag to cover her beautiful locks of hair. “This business of the head-rag irked her endlessly. But Jody was set on it. Her hair was NOT going to show in the store. It didn’t seem sensible at all. That was because Joe never told Janie how jealous he was.”(Hurston 69). Forcing Janie to hide her hair is a way Jody is attempting to mold her identity and have utter control over it. Jody, in order to attain widespread control over Janie, must suppress her identity. Because he doesn’t want her to stimulate hankering in other
When Janie was about sixteen, she spent a spring afternoon under a blossoming tree in Nanny?s yard. Here she comes to the realization that something is missing in her life? sexual ecstasy. The blooms, the new leaves and the virgin- like spring came to life all around her. She wondered when and where she might find such an ecstasy herself. According to Hurston, Nanny finds Janie kissing a boy named Johnny Taylor and her ?head and face looked like the standing roots of some old tree that had been torn away by storm? (12) . Nanny can think of no better way to protect Janie than by marrying her to a middle-aged black farmer whose prosperity makes it unnecessary for him to use her as a ?mule? (Bush 1036).
Brutal beatings that resulted in bruises, broken bones, and even death. Rape that haunted women until their last breath. Being caged and unable to go “tuh de horizon and back”. These are all things that Zora Neale Hurston tried to combat when composing Their Eyes Were Watching God. Through her novel, she tries to show the American people that women can choose the roles that they long for. In all, women have the right to pursue their desires.
The main character, Janie Woods, is unlike any other character throughout the novel, being 75% white and 25% black. For this she was not only looked up to but also looked down upon. She was an outsider within her own community while from the male perspective, she was a prized possession to anyone that could gain her affection. It is important that Hurston told the story about how Janie reached her full potential because it clearly demonstrates how anyone can gain happiness if they simply try. The women on the porch who judge her have hopes and dreams like anyone else. However, Janie is different than them by the way she risks everything she has to chase after her dreams. She encountered many difficulties with this approach at first, involving her marriages with Logan and Joe. Although, she overcame such challenges stronger than ever. Her ending may seem melancholy with the death of Tea Cake, but it is actually tragically perfect. Everything Janie dreamed of as a child was true love and this is exactly what she ended up with. She gained a voice in her life which was masked in her previous relationships. At the end of the novel, Janie is quite content with where her life stands and it is clear to the reader that the problems she endured were actually quite necessary. Although it was sorrowful to see Janie grappling for her dreams, Hurston uses each obstacle to