Their Eyes Were Watching God “...you got tuh go there tuh know there (ch. 20).” In this phrase Janie is referring to the knowledge and experience she has gained by going through her past endeavors. In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie discovers,“Two things everybody’s got tuh to do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves (ch. 20).” These morals of Janie’s are depictions of the book’s entirety. Although the two lessons may be laid out plainly, this quote can be shaded into various depths of meaning. Regardless, through several incidents and relationships in the book, the interpretation of the statement and the applicability to Janie’s story is revealed.
In the beginning, Janie’s first struggle into the process of learning these lessons, was the relationship and influence of Nanny. Furthermore, Nanny was the first and foremost influencer in Janie's young life. Janie’s initial dream was that of finding true love. Consequently, Nanny, after braving a troubled past, wanted Janie to be physiologically secure, even at the cost of her spiritual and emotional needs. Janie knew she needed to feed her emotional and spiritual hunger and by doing so she needed the food of love given by other people. “She had been getting ready for her great journey to the horizons in search of people; it was important to all the world that she should find them and they find her. But she had been whipped like a cur
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In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston portrays the religion of black people as a form of identity. Each individual in the black society Hurston has created worships a different God. But all members of her society find their identities by being able to believe in a God, spiritual or other. Grandma’s worship of Jesus and the “Good Lawd,” Joe Starks’ worship of himself, Mrs. Turner’s worship of white characteristics, and Janie’s worship of love, all stem from a lack of jurisdiction in the society they inhabit. All these Gods represent a need for something to believe in and work for: an ideal, which they wish to achieve, to aspire to. Each individual character is thus
At the beginning of Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie is not knowledgeable about the world because her ambitions are determined by others. This causes her to be stuck with paltry horizons although, she still
In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie, the protagonist, tells the story of her ascension to adulthood and several of the lessons she learned along the way. Though married three times, her second marriage to Joe Starks had the most formative impact on her transition to maturity. Given that Joe played such a crucial role in this affair, we can classify him as a type of parent to Janie. Later, after her final marriage, Janie reflects on her life and is at peace. By that point, she came to realize how to be truly happy.
In Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the reader is taken on an expedition through the life and love of Janie, which provides the reader different levels of imagery and symbolism. “Hurston… use the journey motif to structure and enhance their heroines‘quests as well as lyrical image patterns to evoke and communicate the processes of growth, regeneration and intimations of the Divine within each character.” (Sullivan 1364) Through this expedition Janie strives to achieve her principles about what love was and how she should be living her life. Hurston chose to introduce the reader to the return of Janie as the opening of the book. “Janie’s existence will become a continuous struggle to bring her own experience into harmony with her initial vision of the pear tree” (Maroto 72) Janie was not focusing on what is wrong in her single life, but what was good in it. “Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and
Janie and Nanny’s views on marriage are completely different. Nanny was born during slavery and has seen firsthand the struggle of black women. She wants Janie to live a semi privileged life with a man that can provide for her. She is not concerned with age or love. “De black woman is de mule of de world as far as Ah can see” (Hurston; 1.14). Janie is young and in love with the idea of love and marriage. She has lived a privileged life with minimal worries and does not understand the importance of a man in her life. “Did marriage end the cosmic loneliness of the unmated? Did marriage compel love like the sun the day? (page 21) After her three marriages, Janie believes that love is more important than a big house and
After years of quiet suffering, Janie finds the strength to confront Jody on his deathbed, " ‘But you wasn’t satisfied wid me de way Ah was. Naw! Mah own mind had tuh be squeezed and crowded out tuh make room for yours in me’ ” (86). Angry and finally motivated to speak her mind, Janie articulates her value as a woman and a wife, blaming Jody for being too self-involved and egotistical to appreciate her worth. Ironically, Joe’s attempts to stifle Janie during their marriage only serve to amplify her voice at its end. In stark contrast, Hurston’s heroine comes full circle to discover a peaceful inner-voice with soul mate Tea Cake who treats Janie as an equal and encourages her to express herself. Reminiscing with Phoeby, Janie explains, “ ‘Talkin’ don’t amount tuh a hill uh beans...you got tuh go there tuh know there...find out about livin’ fuh themselves’ “ (192). Janie had to endure the unhappiness and abuse of two failed marriages to discover her voice and find the courage to use it, eventually leading her to love and happiness with Tea Cake. Certainly each of Janie’s relationships, whether a failure and success, lends clarity and volume to her voice over the course of her
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.
Janie’s relationship with Nanny provides Janie with her first views on her role in society and the assertion of men’s power over women. After Janie’s sexual awakening with the pear tree and her kiss with Johnny Taylor, Nanny warns Janie that “de nigger woman is de mule uh de world” (Hurston 14). In Nanny’s prospective, the Negro woman is especially subservient to others, and when Janie goes to Nanny to ask how to love Logan, Nanny dissolves Janie’s notion of love and affirms that love only complicates things. Nanny is seen as Janie’s mother figure and she “dismisses Janie’s romantic ideal of love, feeling that marriage serves a strictly pragmatic purpose, on in which the woman is passive and taken
Throughout the Novel Janie struggles with handling the opinions of others and allowing them to affect how she sees herself. For instance Hurston writes “some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships. Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon- for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you- and pinched it into such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her” (Hurston 89). Here Hurston demonstrates that others will always see things differently from one's perspective and Janie’s ongoing internal conflict with doing what would make her happy or doing what will satisfy those around her. However at the end of the novel Janie ultimately departs from the beliefs of others and displays self empowerment by disregarding the opinions of others over her actions. Similarly Hurston states “so she was free and the judge and everybody up there smiled with her and shook her hand. And the white women cried and stood around her like a protecting wall”(Hurston 188). This quote from the novel indicates that Janie displays self empowerment throughout the course of the novel and individual progress. This quote also shows the ideal of equality because although Janie is mixed she has always made her African
In this global era of evolving civilization, it is increasingly difficult to ignore the fascinating fact about love. Love is a feeling of intimacy, warmth, and attachment. Love is inevitable and it plays a vital role in human life as Janie uses her experience with the pear tree to compare each of her relationships, but it is not until Tea Cake that she finds “a bee to her bloom.” (106).
In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their eyes were watching God the main character Janie is on a quest for self-fulfillment. Of Janie’s three marriages, Logan and Joe provide her with a sense of security and status. However, only her union with Teacake flourishes into true love.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston uses Janie to show that one must have a voice in order to have a sense of who one is and have control over oneself. Janie is a dynamic character and other characters in the novel contributes to her attributes because each of them control specks of her life. To develop as a character, Janie undergoes quests to find her identity and retain it. It is arguable that Janie hangs onto pieces of who she is as she discovers more about herself and gain control over those aspects because Hurston sets the novel up as a frame story. With a frame story, there are reflections happening, so in turn, she must have learned from what she experienced between the beginning and the end of the novel. In addition
The plan for Janie’s future begins with her lack of having real parents. Hurston builds up a foundation for Janie that is bound to fall like a Roman Empire. Janie’s grandmother, whom she refers to as “Nanny” takes the position as Janie’s guardian. The problem begins here for Janie because her Nanny not only spoils her, but also makes life choices for her. Nanny is old, and she only wants the best for her grandchild, for she knows that the world is a cruel place. Nanny makes the mistake of not allowing Janie to learn anything on her own. When Janie was sixteen years old, Nanny wanted to see her get married. Although Janie argued at first, Nanny insisted that Janie get married. “’Yeah, Janie, youse got yo’ womanhood on yuh… Ah wants to see you married right away.’” (Page 12). Janie was not given a choice in this decision. Her Nanny even had a suitor picked out for her. Janie told herself that she would try to make the best of the situation and attempt to find love in her marriage to Logan Killicks. But, as time went by, Janie realized that she still did not have any feelings of what she had considered to be love in her husband.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston emphasizes that respect empowers. When Janie’s respect for Killicks dwindles, so does Killicks’ power over Janie. Killicks’ lack of power in his and Janie’s relationship is evident in Janie’s fearless refusal to be Killicks’ workhorse. Killicks’ desperate desire to control Janie’s love for him (or lack of love) manifests into verbal abuse, through which he tries to cut down Janie’s sense of security in herself by telling her that there aren’t “no mo’ fools” who would be willing to work and feed Janie, especially after her attractive body loses its youthfulness (30).
Through the ‘death’ of Janie’s dream, Hurston argues that one cannot move forward until she has accepted the truth. Janie’s Nanny had constantly reminded her that she needed a husband to one day rely on when Nanny was not around anymore. Nanny claimed that if Janie were to get married to a financially stable husband, she would be prosperous. Therefore, Janie believed marriage automatically results in love. Correspondingly, Hurston writes,