Posts Tagged ‘Zora Neale Hurston’

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Their Eyes were Watching God is a novel by the African American writer, Zora Neale Hurston. It is about a woman named Janie who becomes free after surviving three marriages, each one having its own problems. In the beginning, Janie is married to Logan Killicks when she is still a teenager by her grandmother, who thinks that the fate of black females is hopeless. She ends up living unhappily with a man who harshly tells her to work all the time. Then she marries Joe Starks, who becomes mayor of Eatonville, a black town. Although she lives a comfortable life, she is not allowed to engage in activities or talk with others and should represent the image the public wants her to see. Her third husband, Tea Cake, a confident, easy-going man, gives her more freedom as an independent person, engages in several activities with her which she would not have been able to do with her previous husbands, and takes her around the country

Their Eyes were Watching God raises several questions for the reader to think about. As the the wife of the mayor Joe Starks, her second husband, who cares only about how Janie appears in public and wants her to play a simple and docile role as a mayor’s wife, should Janie stay with him and enjoy the privilege of having a rich husband or should she leave him? In my opinion, the phonetic dialogue in the novel makes it a unique book, and really gave character to the persons in the novel.

I think that Janie finally becomes completely free and independent after her last husband Tea Cake’s death. Although Tea Cake treated her the best compared to her previous husbands and didn’t undermine her, Janie depended on him and went along with all his plans. She also worried a lot whenever he used to return home late. However, I don’t think it would’ve been possible for Janie to become fully independent without Tea Cake, who was the one who encouraged her and showed her how to be free. I think that Tea Cake was  one of the people whom Janie had to leave to become free. The death of Tea Cake was sad, since he played a large role in Janie’s personality and experience and had good intentions toward her, but if you look at the whole picture, Janie’s motive was to be free and fully independent. If every single one of her husbands was horrible, I guess that eaving them wouldn’t have been emotionally difficult for Jane. Tea Cake was a good person whom Janie had to leave (or in this case, kill in self defense), to reach her goal. When you are on an adventure to accomplish something, you meet good people and bad people. Unfortunately, it is especially difficult to leave the good people. Janie wouldn’t have left Tea Cake on her own. She wouldn’t have been who she was had it not been for him, and he had made a final act that proves his devotion to her. To get rid of Tea Cake and be free, Janie had to be in a “had-to” situation which could cost her her life. Although Janie shall always remember Tea Cake and appreciate him, she will gladly enjoy her self-made independence. Although Tea Cake was a loving husband, who got himself bitten by a dog (later receiving Rabies which led to his illness) in order to save Janie, he was still a burden to her. After shooting him to defend herself from his mania,  she felt some regret since he risked his life for her. Janie is better off without a husband.



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