In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God?

Good Essays

In the early 1900s, American society was a hierarchy based on race, gender, and wealth. White people were ranked higher than black people, and within each race, the wealthy were higher than the poor, and women were below men. In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, these societal expectations, force Janie, a mixed race woman, into relationships with men who fail her. In each relationship, Janie suffers abuse from the men she marries. The violence escalates from verbal abuse to physical abuse. Janie’s infautionation with Tea Cake allows him to manifest his flaws, which ultimately places Janie in a deflamatory relationship.
Although Janie and Tea Cake’s marriage has its share of arguments and alterations, Tea Cake’s influence …show more content…

Janie’s relationship with Logan, her first husband, is seen as unacceptable to her due to his old age and the fact that Janie did not have any say in the marriage. Due to Janie’s opposition to being with Logan, he “seem(s) violent without actually committing violence”. Hurston uses Tea Cake’s youth and the fact that Janie was not forced into a relationship with him to make Tea Cake appear to be a ‘better’ person than Logan. However, Tea Cake is the one who actually whipped Janie. Tea Cake commits many violent acts, but because of his attractiveness, Tea Cake is excused “even when he executes violence” (Harris, 92). Tea Cake had shown signs of abuse and had a gambling addiction, whereas Logan was verbally cruel to Janie, but never physically hurt her. Hurston emphasizes the faults of society through Tea Cake and his effect on Janie. Tea Cake is the cruelest of Janie’s husbands, but the way he is presented makes it seem as if he is the best of them. Tea Cake, representing society, initially encourages Janie to be strong, then molds her into an object of his pleasing. In Janie’s mind, Tea Cake is perfect and cannot make mistakes, even after he whipped her. Mrs. Turner, who lives in the Everglades, believes that Tea Cake is too colored for Janie and that she needs to be with a lighter skinned man, like her brother. She pushes her brother …show more content…

Janie completes the tasks “not because Tea Cake demands that she do so, but because he asks her to” (McCredie, 123). Because it appears that Tea Cake is giving her a choice, Janie is happy to help him. In previous relationships, Janie was demand to complete tasks, with no say in the matter, so she feels that by making requests, Tea Cake respects and values her. Tea Cake’s emotional manipulation of Janie makes it so she is supportive and willing to do whatever he wishes.
Through Tea Cake’s character, Zora Neale Hurston shows that society is destructive. Whenever there is a group of people living together, “society” is inescapable. Tea Cake pretends to be a man who is not consumed with the evilness of society, however, Tea Cake’s influence on Janie forces her to become weak and dependent. Uncovering society’s faults force Janie to become aware of her situation, and become a realistic person, rather than the romantic she has always

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