Essay on Equality and Inequality in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Equality and Inequality in Their Eyes Were Watching God

In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, the author, Zora Neale Hurston, attempts to bring into light problems caused by prejudice. However, as she tries to show examples of inequality through various character relationships, examples of equality are revealed through other relationships. Janie, the novel's main character, encounters both inequality and equality through the treatment she receives during her three marriages.

Janie's first marriage is to Logan Killicks. Logan enters the marriage with a large portion of land. However, Janie enters the marriage with practically nothing. This ends up becoming a relationship based on inequality because Logan starts to use
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Therefore, both Joe and Janie are looked up to by the townspeople. To some extent, this could be considered a form of equality. Unfortunately, this is about where the equality stops. While Joe gains prominence through his own actions and words, Janie gains some prominence by doing what she is told to do. She is not permitted to voice her own opinions or join in the lighthearted gossiping which occurs outside of their store. Janie is expected to be the dutiful wife. If she makes a mistake, then she should have known better and therefore should accept her punishment quietly. Joe holds the obvious upper hand in the relationship until his death whereupon Janie inherits a large amount of money and learns to enjoy the freedom of living as her own person.

Then Janie meets Tea Cake. Their courtship and marriage involve many different forms of equality which are not seen in Janie's past relationships. The equalities exhibited include Tea Cake and Janie's equality to one another as persons, and equality in "age," love, and money.

As two different people, Janie and Tea Cake are allowed to live their lives as equals. When living with Joe, Janie is never allowed to do things such as speaking her mind, playing games, or doing anything which is not completely ladylike. Tea Cake encourages her to do things which were previously not open to her, such as playing chess, speaking openly about her feelings, and hunting. He teaches Janie to shoot and hunt wild game.

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