Their Eyes Were Watching God

1780 Words8 Pages
In both Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” and novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, the focus is on women who want better lives but face difficult struggles before gaining them. The difficulties involving men which Janie and Delia incur result from or are exacerbated by the intersection of their class, race, and gender, which restrict each woman for a large part of her life from gaining her independence.
Throughout a fair part of Zora Neal Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie’s low class create problems when it comes to men. She lives with men she does not love because they give her the financial stability she cannot have yet on her own. Janie marries Logan Killicks at a young age even though she does not want to
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Another factor which strongly affects Janie and Delia’s search for independence is their gender. With her first marriage, Janie is forced into the submissive, passive role in their union. Because of her gender, she does not get to choose her husband. Rather, he chooses her and Nanny encourages her to go along with his desires. She feels no love in their marriage, but partly because she is a woman she does not have much control to change her situation. “She knew that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman” (Hurston 25). If Janie were a man, her options for marriage would be greater and therefore more likely to lead to a relationship that would fulfill her dream of finding love. This dream is ultimately what leads her to run away with Jody, who eventually begins to assert dominance over Janie, justifying his actions by saying, “Somebody got to think for women and chillun and chickens and cows. I god, they sho don’t think none themselves” (71). Jody lumps Janie in with kids and animals because of her gender, using this as an excuse to oppress her, which therefore leads to her being kept from reaching independence. It is impossible to be independent when another adult is treating you as if you were a child. Both of her first husbands do this to Janie, as Jennifer Jordan discusses in her article, “Feminist Fantasies: Zora Neale Hurston 's Their Eyes Were Watching
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