The marriage is unsatisfying and lonely for Janie. Janie “...knew things that nobody had ever told her...the words of the trees and the wind. She often spoke to falling seeds and said, ‘Ah hope you fall on soft ground,’” (25). She spoke and connected with nature because she was still searching for the kind of love she had witnessed when laying under the pear tree when she was younger. After a big fight with Logan, Janie meets a man named Jody Starks who is charming and charismatic. He is extremely intelligent and Janie leaves Logan for him because even though “he did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees...he spoke for far horizon. He spoke for change and chance." (28). Janie has not been able to find herself in her marriage with Logan because there was no real connection, she hopes to find love resembling the pear tree with Jody. Unfortunately Janie’s dreams of finding love with Jody fall flat. Jody is controlling and restricts Janie from expressing herself and he further isolates her from society.
Similarly, Janie makes another great sacrifice when she decides to leave her life of ease and luxury in Eatonville, so she can start a new life with Tea Cake. In Eatonville, she had authority as the store owner and as the former mayor’s wife, but she decides to follow her heart which ultimately leads to her fulfillment of self-actualization with the help of Tea Cake. Without Tea Cake, Janie could not have found herself, and his impact on her remains even after his death. Janie recounts her life lesson to Phoeby saying, “Love is lak da sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore...Two things everybody’s got tuh do for theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves” (191-92). Through Janie’s words, the effect of Tea Cake on her is eminent through how Janie learn about life and herself and leads her to becoming independent. Because Janie sacrifices her luxurious life in Eatonville, through Tea Cake, she fulfills her need of self-actualization, a recurring idea in the book. Janie’s values concerning her life and of Tea Cake are also illuminated in her conversation with Phoeby before she leaves Eatonville. She and Tea Cake “‘...[had] done made up [their] minds tuh
She ended up living a life full of manipulation and mediocrity. While living with Joe, she had to tend to many different tasks as his wife. She wasn't independent with him either. She was Joe's tag-a-long. 'She went through many silent rebellions over things like that. Such a waste of life and time. But Joe kept saying that she could do it if she wanted to and he wanted her to use her privileges. That was the rock she was battered against.' (Hurston, 51) Janie always had to wear her hair a certain way, always up in a head rag, in order not to attract attention to other men and women. She was always in a state of loneliness with herself. While married to Janie, he would not allow her to attend the people's gatherings believing that she does not belong to such a group of lower class people. Joe was depriving Janie of her independence and sanity. "Naw, Ah ain't no young gal no mo' but den Ah ain't no old woman either. Ah reckon Ah looks mah age too. But Ah'm us woman every inch of me, and Ah know it. Dat's uh whole lot more'n you kin say. You big-bellies round here and put out a lot of brag, but 'tain't nothin' to it but yo' big voice. Humph! Talkin' 'bout me lookin' old! When you pull down yo' britches, you look lak de change uh life." (Hurston, 75) This quote spoken by Janie proves that she was getting sick and tired of being pushed around by Joe and his stuck-up ways. This was a slow
Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman" (24). Janie's prayer is her final plea for a change in her life. She says "Lawd, you know mah heart. Ah done de best Ah could do. De rest is left to you" (23).
Near the beginning of the book, Janie develops an idealistic view of love whilst lying underneath a pear tree. She is young and naïve, enthralled with the beauty of spring. She comes to the conclusion that marriage is the ultimate expression of love and finds herself pondering why she does not have a partner. In the rashness of her hormone clouded brain, she is drawn to Johnny Taylor, who is nearly a stranger. This is her first experience formulating ideas about
Joe constantly felt the need to make Janie feel horrible about herself. He would take control of everything she would do and Janie couldn’t do anything but feel sad. Hurston says, “The years took all the fight out of Janie’s face. For a while she thought it was gone from her soul. No matter what Jody did she said nothing” Saying nothing showed her husband that she let this mistreatment happen to her without speaking up for her rights. Being gone from her sole shows that Janie didn’t even know who she was anymore because she couldn’t even make simple choices for herself. This becomes a problem because Janie couldn’t even find happiness in her relationship, which is far from self-actualizing. These two quotes both show Janie’s passivity through silence and the feeling of worthlessness. This may be an example from Janie’s life, but this became a problem for many women whose husbands follow gender hierarchies to feel like they have more power over their wife. Society always views men to have more power and to be a more powerful figure than women which causes uncomfort in relationships. This strive of power stops people from reaching self-actualization because they are always looking for others to be better than instead of looking to reach their fullest potential. Reaching self-actualization is a big goal for many people because you
Even before Joe’s death, Janie “was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen. She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew not how to mix them.”(75) Joe’s influences controlled Janie to the point where she lost her independence and hope. She no longer knew how to adapt to the change brought upon her. When she finally settles and begins to gain back that independence, the outward existence of society came back into play. “Uh woman by herself is uh pitiful thing. Dey needs aid and assistance.”(90) Except this time Janie acted upon her own judgment and fell for someone out of the ordinary. Tea Cake was a refreshing change for Janie, despite the society’s disapproval. “Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place.”(128) This was what she had always dreamt of. When she was with Tea Cake, she no longer questioned inwardly, she simply rejected society’s opinions and acted upon her own desires.
Another desire of young Janie is to find true, passionate love in a relationship. Returning to the metaphor of the pear tree, Janie says to her Grandma, “‘Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think’” (Hurston 24). Janie dreams of a peaceful, pleasant, and comfortable love in her marriage, similar to the quiet bliss of sitting in the shade of a blossoming pear tree. In her article, Kubitschek also points out Darwin Turner’s understanding that “‘All Janie wants is to love, be loved, and to share the life of her man. But . . . she must first find a man wise enough to let her be whatever kind of woman she wants to be’” (qtd. in Kubitschek 109). Unfortunately, this love and freedom was not acquired in Janie’s first marriage. Despite her hope that feelings of true love would develop with her first husband Logan Killicks, “she knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman” (Hurston 25). Discontent with lack of passion in her first marriage, Janie decides to abandon her dream of finding love with Logan and does not hesitate to run away with Jody Starks when the situation presents itself. Deborah Clarke comments on this change in heart, writing, “Janie thus gives up a
Feminism and gender equality is one of the most important issues of society today, and the debate dates back much farther than Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. To analyze Janie’s existence as a feminist or anti-feminist character requires a potential critic to look at her relationships and her reactions to those relationships throughout the novel. Trudier Harris claims that Janie is “questing after a kind of worship.” This statement is accurate only up until a certain point in her life, until Janie’s “quest” becomes her seeking equality with her partner. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie’s main goal pertaining to her romantic relationships undergoes multiple changes from her original goal of a type of worship to a goal to maintain an equal relationship with her husband.
All through the novel Janie travels through valuable life experiences allowing her to grow as a woman. Janie at first has a difficult time understanding her needs rather than wants, but as she continues to experience new situations she realizes she values respect. Janie’s first two marriages turned out to be tragic mistakes, but with each marriage Janie gained something valuable. When Janie is disrespected in her second marriage with Joe Starks, he publicly humiliates her, disrespecting her as a wife and woman. This experience forced Janie to come out of her comfort zone and stand up for herself.
Instead of treating Janie like the beautiful woman that she is, he uses her as an object. Joe was a man who “treasured [Janie] as a posession” (Berridge). Joe’s demanding nature suppresses Janie’s urge to grow and develop, thus causing her journey to self-realization to take steps backward rather than forward. In Janie’s opinion, “he needs to “have [his] way all [his] life, trample and mash down and then die ruther than tuh let [him]self heah 'bout it” (Hurston 122). It is almost as if Janie loses sense of her own self-consciousness due to the fact that she becomes like a puppy being told what to do by her master. The death of Jody is actually a positive thing. Joe’s controlling nature stifles Janie’s inner voice. While married to Jody, Janie became closer to others, however, she did not become closer to herself. Being on her own again gave her another chance to embark on her journey and realize who Janie Crawford really is.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, the reader is given a particular glimpse into Janie's life with reference to the men she has known. Janie's three men are all very different, yet they were all Janie's husband at one point in her life. Although they all behaved differently, in lifestyle as well as their relationship with Janie, they all shared certain similarities.
Janie’s inner self is entirely composed of her desires, needs, and true feelings. When Joe dies, Janie is internally genuinely happy; However, she can only express this inwardly because she can’t portray her husbands death as a happy aspect to society. On the outside, Janie participates in the funeral and the requisite mourning period; while inwardly, rejoicing.
Janie refuses to let this societal constraint deter her from her dream. "She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman" (Page 24). Janie has acknowledged that at that point in time, her dream was
In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston a young girl named Janie begins her life unknown to herself. She searches for the horizon as it illustrates the distance one must travel in order to distinguish between illusion and reality, dream and truth, role and self? (Hemenway 75). She is unaware of life?s two most precious gifts: love and the truth. Janie is raised by her suppressive grandmother who diminishes her view of life. Janie?s quest for true identity emerges from her paths in life and ultimatly ends when her mind is freed from mistaken reality.