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CRITICAL ESSAY: THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD It all begins with parents. However, although genetics play a key role in what kind of person one becomes, environment is the other major factor that influences a person? s development. The people a person meets and the experiences one has are very important elements affecting development. With the three marriages Janie has, she develops as a woman. In each marriage she learns valuable lessons, leading to progressively better relationships, realizing how a person is to live his / her life.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie? s three marriages lead her to self-knowledge and thus to fulfillment. Janie? s marriage to Login Killicks provides her with the realization that marriages do not necessarily guarantee mutual love. Her pre-marital concept of love and marriage is symbolized in the natural union of bee and flower: She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight.
So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. (p. 11) In this dream, Janie conveys her idea of marriage being the culmination of love, of two separate entities becoming one and growing together. To the rest of society, as represented by Login Killicks and her grandmother, marriage is not about love, but is rather a business deal that only includes protection and procreation. Her grandmother says, ? ? Tain?
t Logan Killicks Ah wants you to have, baby, it? s protection. ? (p. 15) These beliefs run contrary to everything that Janie has wished and hoped a marriage to be: ? Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think. ? (p. 24), a marriage that is filled with an equal and physical love. When she questions her grandmother, Nanny continually indoctrinates her with views of marriage she does not accept. She finally relents and marries Login Killicks. As her marriage unfolds, Janie begins to question herself and why she had yielded to views that she never believed in. ?
Did marriage end the cosmic loneliness of the united? Did marriage compel like the sun the day? ? (p. 21). Eventually, she comes to the realization that, ? marriage did not make love. Janie? s first dream was dead, so she became a woman. ? (p. 25) In her marriage to Joe Starks, Janie soon learns that her new womanhood serves only to reflect his position and wealth.
From the beginning of their relationship, signs indicate that Joe is not necessarily the love Janie is looking for. ? On the train the next day, Joe didn? t make many speeches with rhymes to her, but he bought her the best things the butcher had? (p. 34) The effect money has on Joe? s life is already apparent. He buys her only material things because he is ownership-oriented. Janie notices the problem early in the relationship and confronts Joe about it, saying?
it jus? looks lak it keeps us in some way we ain? t natural wid one nother. You? se always off talkin? and fixed?
things, and Ah feels lak Ah? m jus? martin time. Hope it soon gits over. ? (p. 46) His response greatly depicts his view of her. ? Over, Janie? I god, Ah ain?
t even started good. Ah told you in de very beginning? dat Ah aimed tuh be a big voice. You oughta be glad, cause dat make uh big woman outa you. ? (p. 46) Janie realizes that she cannot be open with Joe; he is no longer the man she had met by the water pump. Joe has many of his own interests, none of which are concerned with Janie. ? She found out that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him She was saving up feelings for some man that she had never seen. ? (p. 72) He continues to treat Janie as a reflection of himself when he wants her to appear attractive; love at only a material level. ?
Jody told her to dress up and stand in the store all that evening and he didn? t mean for nobody else? s wife to rank with her. ? (p. 41) Joe also suppresses Janie, both as a woman and a human being, and sets a limit on her self-fulfillment, treating her more like an object than a woman. He lumps women in with mere things: ? Somebody got to think for women and child and chickens and cows. ? (p. 71) All in all, throughout her marriage she learns that wealth does not bring happiness.
Finally realizing that she is only another possession of Joe Starks, she says, ? You done lived wid me for twenty years and you don? t half know me all. And you could have but you was so busy worshipping?
de works of yo? own hands, and coffin? folks around in their minds till you didn? t see uh whole heap uh things yuh could have. ? (p. 86) After Joe dies, she also concludes that she had been missing something in her life, and realizes the next man she meets is perfect for her. Janie? s development as a woman becomes complete after living and learning with Vergible?
Tea Cake? Woods. Tea Cake catalyzes the final stage of development of Janie as a woman. From Tea Cake, Janie learns to love and what it feels like to be loved. He represents everything Janie has ever wanted in a marriage: She couldn? t make him look like any other man to her.
He looked like the love thoughts to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps. Crushing aromatic herbs with every step he took. Spice hung about him. He was a glance from God. (p. 106) Tea Cake not only encourages her growth to independence, but contributes to it by teaching her skills such as hunting and checkers, while at the same time, praising her for her talents. He further proves this by taking her fishing, hunting, dancing, and gardening with her. For a while, Janie and Tea Cake even work the fields together.
For the first time in her life, Janie enjoys life because she experiences what it feels to be loved. She says? we ain? t got nothin?
tuh do but do our work and come home and love? (p. 133). Tea Cake has none of the financial stability of the first two men, but has an openness of mind that allows Janie to escape from people? s expectations. He makes Janie realize that she must decide what she wants out of life, and discovers she hated the limitations Nanny imposed on her self-fulfillment: ?
Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon and pinched it into such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughters neck tight enough to choke her. ? (p. 89) From her marriage with Tea Cake, Janie finally lives her dream of love and believes it is something very few people ever get to experience. Janie? s marriage with Tea Cake brings her to a final stage of self-realization. Janie clearly progresses in her development as a woman through the marriages she has had with three very different men.
Logan Killicks is her starting place and from him she learns that she was missing a mutual love. Although Janie feels Joe Starks would provide her with what she thinks is love, it is only a show to win her over, eventually giving way to his ulterior motive of building a name for himself. His death gives Janie a new chance, allowing Tea Cake the privilege of being the next to marry Janie and the opportunity to teach her what it is to love and to be loved. Janie began the process of becoming a woman when her first dream was broken and continues and completes her growth as a person through the joys and sorrows, the disappointments and fulfillment of her three marriages.
Free research essays on topics related to: joe starks, logan killicks, eyes were watching god, janie , tea cake
Research essay sample on Eyes Were Watching God Janie