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Identity in Their Eyes Were Watching God

In life everyone tries to find his true identity. For some it comes naturally.  For others, it might take years to find, or it might never be found at all. In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston reveals a woman’s identity through her struggles in life, her treatment by society, and her thoughts on life.

Janie is a young African American girl who grew up in a white life style. She believed she was related to the white man until she was around six. This impact changed Janie’s view on life. While she thought she was able to do things, the color of her skin held her back. This made her try harder to accomplish her goals.

When her grandmother insisted that she marry Logan, she did not want to.  Even so, Janie married him to fulfill her grandmother’s dreams. Even though Janie did not love him, she struggled until she could not stand it, and finally ran away with Joe. “It had always been his wish and desire to be a big voice and he had to live nearly thirty years to find a chance.” (28) ***HOW DOES THIS QUOTE RELATE?***

While Janie was with Joe in Eaton Vile, she had a higher status then the rest of the town’s people. Janie tried to interact with them, but Joe would not let her. He thought of Janie as being better than all of them. This led to the way she was treated in society. All of the women in the town thought Janie had everything, but Janie did not. She wanted to be accepted as part of them. When Joe died, people in the town expected Janie to be mournful, so she put on an act for them. “She sent her face to Joe’s funeral, and herself went rollicking with the springtime across the world.” (88)

After Joe’s death Janie continued to run the store. While working, she met Tea Cake, who showed her how to play checkers. “Somebody wanted her to play. Somebody thought it natural for her to play.” (96) This illustrates how he treated her as equal. Compared to the other two husbands in Janie’s life, Tea Cake was very progressive and open minded. Tea Cake taught her so much that she started to feel more independent. After Tea Cake’s death, Janie grieved on the inside so much that she did not care what people thought of her. She wore overalls that were covered with mud. (189)

 After all the struggles Janie went through, she finally found who she was. She did everything that everyone else wanted for her, but never did what she really wanted for herself. After she found her true love, she found her identity because this brought her closer to herself. This made her whole, and she finally knew what she wanted. It did not come easy for Janie to find her identity. It took her years to find out who she really was.



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