Stereotypes and Distorted Images in Their Eyes Were Watching God. by Janie Crawford

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Those living in today’s world are constantly bombarded with the stereotypes and distorted images of a consumerist society. As a result, they often struggle with a loss of identity because mass media try to dictate what they should want to be and do. Zora Neale Hurston tackles this age-old search for self-discovery in her fictional frame story Their Eyes Were Watching God. Janie Crawford tells her best friend, Pheoby, about her quest for her own voice, despite setbacks in the form of relatives, two husbands, and entire towns that attempt to silence her. From a young age, Janie yearns for enlightenment; however, the roles Nanny, Logan Killicks, and Joe Starks force upon her prevent her from reaching selfhood until she meets and falls in love …show more content…

At the same time, however, Janie begins to confuse this desire with romance. Despite the fact that nature’s “love embrace” leaves her feeling “limp and languid,” she pursues the first thing she sees that appears to satisfy her desire: a young man named Johnny Taylor (Hurston 11). Leaning over the gate’s threshold to kiss Johnny, Janie takes the first step toward her newfound horizon. Nanny sees this kiss and declares Janie’s womanhood. She wants Janie to marry Logan Killicks, a financially secure and well-respected farmer who can protect her from corruption. The marriage of convenience that Nanny suggests is “desecrating … [Janie’s] pear tree” because it contradicts her ideal vision of love (Hurston 14). Because she did not have the strength to fight people in her youth, Janie’s grandmother believes that Janie needs to rely on a husband in order to stay safe and reach liberation. Ironically, Janie’s adherence to Nanny’s last request suppresses her even more because it causes her to leave behind her own horizon.
This departure from her horizon creates a series of relationships with selfish men who treat Janie like an object and suppress her voice; the more fed up Janie becomes with her situation, the more she begins to recover her speech. Her first months of marriage to Logan are unsatisfactory for one reason: she does not love him. Nanny forces her to wait for these feelings to come, but Janie only realizes that marriage does not

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