Essay, Research Paper: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Literature: Their Eyes Were Watching God

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In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie battles to find Individualism within
herself. Janie, all her life, had been pushed around and told what to do and how
to live her life. She searched and searched high and low to find a peace that
makes her whole and makes her feel like a complete person. To make her feel like
she is in fact an individual and that she’s not like everyone else around her.
During the time of ‘Their Eyes’, the correct way to treat women was to show
them who was in charge and who was inferior. Men were looked to as the superior
being, the one who women were supposed to look up to and serve. Especially in
the fact that Janie was an African American women during these oppressed times.
Throughout this book, it looks as though Janie makes many mistakes in trying to
find who she really is, and achieving the respect that she deserves. Living with
her Grandmother and theWashburns’, Janie was surrounded and raised with white
children. She always believed that she was white herself, and that she was no
different than anybody else. As she was growing up, she was told what to do and
how to live by her grandmother. Janie’s grandmother planned her life out for
her. She told her that she must get married right away. “Yeah, Janie, youse
got yo’ womanhood on yuh. So Ah mout ez well tell yuh whut Ah been savin’ up
for uh spell. Ah wants to see you married right away.” Janie’s grandmother
did want what was best for Janie, but she basically told her what to do instead
of letting her know what she wanted for her. Janie’s grandmother told her
exactly who she was going to marry and who she wasn’t even to think about.
“Whut Ah seen just now is plenty for me, honey, Ah don’t want no trashy
negro, no breath-and-britches, lak Johnny Taylor usin’ yo’ body to wipe his
foots on. Brother Logan Killicks, he’s a good man.......You answer me when Ah
speak. Don’t you set dere poutin’ wid me after all Ah done went through for
you!” She is basically telling Janie that she can’t marry Johnny Taylor, the
one she is exploring her womanhood with, the one she wants, and that she must
marry Logan, for protection. Towards the end of the book, Janie resents her
grandmother for “living” her life for her and planning her future. To find
out what will happen in a persons future, they need to live their life on their
own and not have it planned for them. They can’t be told how to live there
lives in order to succeed. To succeed, we need to learn from our own mistakes,
and live with the weight of our decisions. This is exactly what Janie did in her
marriage to Logan. She did as she was told, or rather, expected to do. Janie
didn’t want to marry Logan, but if it made her grandmother happy, then by all
means, why not give it a shot. If it meant that she’d be secure. In her
marriage to Logan, she found out that that’s not what she wanted. Janie wanted
love, happieness, comfort and enjoyment. She didn’t want her first marriage to
be like a prison sentence. “Did marriage end the cosmic loneliness of the
unmated, did it compel love like the sun the day?” This is asking if marriage
made love for Janie as the sun makes the day for the world. Is the basis of love
marriage...just as the basis for day is the sun. To Janie, this was not true.
She did not feel as though she loved Logan, and that’s all she really wanted.
She didn’t want to be treated as the rest of the world was treated. She wanted
to be treated as an individual and not as a slave. She was a slave to marriage.
She didn’t want to be there, where there was no warmth. Joe Starks stole Janie
away from Logan. He saved her from the boringness of their dull marriage. He
woed her with his words of kindness. He promised her happieness. “De day you
puts yo’ hand in mine, Ah wouldn’t let de sun go down on us single. You
ain’t never knowed what it was to be treated lak a lady and Ah wants to be de
one tuh show yuh.” He wanted her to feel special, and be treated like she was
somebody. Janie began to wonder if this was her conclusion to her search of her
freedom. She figured that this is where her happieness was, and that Joe would
give her all that she wanted. Together they built a life. Joe bought her things
she never even dreamed of. When they built Eatonville together, Janie expressed
her feelings and opinions the way she always wanted to. She, finally, was her
own self. Or so she thought. Towards the end of this blissfull marriage, she
grew tired to this life, and the way Joe was treating her. He treated her
special...but not in a unique sort of way like in the beginning. He started
treating her the way everyone else was. She was expected to do things and dress
and act certain ways. She was tired of being the one in charge in Eatonville.
“She must look on herself as the bell-cow, the other women were the gang.”
When Joe became the Mayor of Eatonville, she was in charge of many things. She
was the leading lady. Although this was different than how her life was before,
she didn’t like having to take care of most everything. In the beginning, it
felt important, but towards the end, she felt unappreciated for the things she
had done, and it pretty much became expected of her. She seemed to become more
of a problem than a solution. “No matter what Jody did, she said nothing. She
had learned how to talk some and leave some. She was a rut in the road.” Being
a leading lady in the town, she didn’t like being in authority. She wanted to
be treated respectibly, the way she was, but she didn’t want that kind of
relationship with the people. She just wanted friends...and not inferiors. So,
Janie was not happy once again with her situation. Janie kept on searching for
this hidden happieness that she knew she wanted, but could not find. She soon
met Tea Cake. A man that made her laugh, made her happy, and made her feel as
though she was the same as everybody else. “Then Tea Cake went to the piano
without so much as asking and began playing blues and singing, and throwning
grins over his shoulder. The sounds lulled Janie to soft slumber and then she
woke up with Tea Cake combing her hair and scratching the dandruff from her
scalp.” Tea Cake and Janie obviously shared a special love between them as
their relationship grew. The things he did for her made her feel unbelievable.
They did things she had never even thought of. Tea Cake took her places she had
never been. “To Janie’s strange eyes, everything in the Everglades was big
and new.” Janie went to many new places and met many new people that she
would’ve never met had she stayed with Logan or stayed in Eatonville with Joe.
She would’ve just kept on living the same life...never doing anything new with
the same boring people. With Tea Cake, Janie began to work, and to feel a
certain freedom she had never felt before. Janie found what she was looking for.
She searched all her life to find what was within herself, and one special
person was all that was needed to bring it out in her. Even though her and Tea
Cake’s relationship ended in a tragedy, she knew that he really loved her for
who she was. She didn’t need to be with him for protection, or she didn’t
need to be the leading lady of a town or a mayor’s wife, she just needed the
right kind of love and affection to bring out what was best in her.

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