Their Eyes Were Watching God

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    03-Sep-2015

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  • TheirEyesWereWatchingGodresponse

    Inthebildungsroman,TheirEyesWereWatchingGod,byZoraNealeHurston,athird

    personnarratordescribesthelifeofJaniethroughhereyes.Janie,anafricanamericaninthe

    earlytwentiethcentury,beginsasayounggirlraisedbyhergrandmotheronawhitefamilys

    land.ThewhitefamilyprovidesandcaresforthemandJanieadmits,Ahwaswiddemwhite

    chillunsomuchtilahdidntknowaswazntwhitetilahwasroundsix.Sincehergrandmother

    wasraisedwiththebeliefsthattobesuccessfulmeanstomarryasuccessfulman,sheurgesJanie

    togetmarriedasateenager.Hergrandmothereventuallydies,andJanierealizessheisnothappy

    andshedoesnotloveherhusband.Throughoutherlife,sheismarriedtwicemore,eachtime

    lookingforawaytoreachherdreams,throughthesemen.Janiestrugglestoconformtothe

    outsideexpectationsimposedonherbyothers,aswellaswithherneedtobeindependentand

    free,strengtheningtheoverallmeaningoftheworkhappinessandspiritualfulfillmentcannotbe

    foundthrougharelationship,insteaditmustbefoundinsideoneself.

    Inthebeginning,JaniemarriesLogantopleasehergrandmothersselfishand

    materialisticdesires.HermarriageendsabruptlywhensherunsawaywithJoeStarkstobe

    marriedonceagain.JanieisconsumedbythewayJoespeaksofpowerandabetterlife.

    However,Janiesoonlearnsthatshewillnotsharethispower,butinsteadbeoppressedbyit.

    WhenJoebecomesthemayorofasmalltown,Eatonville,hisneedtoberespectedalienates

    Janie.Forexample,heforceshertowearherhairupinaragoutofjealousyandaneedfor

    control.ItmusthavebeenthewayJoespokeoutwithoutgivingherachancetosayanything

    onewayoranotherthattookthebloomofthings.Sherealizesthatshehaslosthergreatest

  • weapon,hervoice.JaniecannotspeakhermindandisunabletovoiceheropinionswhenJoe

    becomesviolent.Healsoforceshertorunthetownstore,whichrepresentsprisontoher,forhe

    abusesherphysicallyandverballyifshemakesamistake.SoonJoediesofkidneyfailureandit

    isevidentthatJaniefeelshersenseoffreedomreturn.Immediatelysheletsherhairdown,

    symbolizingtheendofheroppression.

    ResentmentofhergrandmotherfillsJaniesheart.Nannyhadtakenthebiggestthing

    Godevermade,thehorizonandpincheditintosuchalittlebitofathingthatshecouldtieit

    abouthergranddaughter'snecktightenoughtochokeherwithit.InJanieseyes,her

    grandmotherhadstolenherdreamsinthenameoflove.Afteralongperiodofmourning,Janie

    meetsTeaCake.Heisconsiderablyyoungerthanher,assheisnownearlyforty,howeversheis

    attractedtothewayhetreatsherasanequal.TeaCakeinviteshertoplaycheckerswithhim,

    whereasJoewouldorder,gofetchmemycheckerboard.Withhim,Janiefeelsfreeandableto

    reachherdreams.WhentheygetmarriedandmovetotheEverglades,herloveforTeaCakeis

    evidentevenafterheleavesherforperiodsoftimesandhitsher.Janiebeginstoacceptmale

    dominanceasagiven.WhenTeaCakeisbittenbyarabiddog,hebecomesmentallysick.One

    day,hetriestokillJanie,andsheisforcedtoshoothim.Althoughsheisinlovewithhim,her

    actionprovesshelovesherselfmore.

    ThenovelreturnstothepresentandJanieisnowbackinEatonville.Sheforgivesher

    grandmotherandJoe,assherealizestheyarenotbadpeople,theysimplyareunderwrong

    beliefs.Herforgivenessandacceptancerepresentsherstrengthandgrowthasaperson.Foronce,

    shedisregardswhatthetownspeoplesayabouther,asshehaslearnednoteverythingrequiresa

    reactionandsilencecanoftenspeaktheloudest.Finallythatnight,sheremembersthedayshe

  • killedTeaCakeandisheartbroken.However,sheconveysthatheshowedherthehorizon,and

    becomesateaseknowingthatshehasbeentothehorizonandback.Janiesinternaljourney

    andoutsideexperiencescreateawomanwhovaluesselfloveovervainrelationships.