Gender Roles In Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Ana Arellano Mrs. Hladik AP Literature 7th 13 January 2014 Their Eyes Were Watching God In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston introduces the theme of gender roles through the use of characterization. Gender roles were very important in the African American culture during the 1930’s. Hurston highlights the importance males place on feeling superior to their wives and forcing them in a role of subservience. Men in the South viewed women as property. Men were the masters of the household and women were the slaves in the marriage. The novel is the story of Janie’s awakening from this oppression into her own self-awareness and personal identity. Janie’s journey to awakening was filled with oppression before she entered the pear tree garden of her self-actualized dreams of love. The beginning of her awakening as well as the beginning of her slavery begins with her grandmother. Janie experiences awakening to love in her grandmother’s backyard while staring at a blooming pear tree. “Oh to be a pear treeany tree in bloom! With kissing bees singing of the beginning of the world! She was sixteen. She had glossy leaves and bursting buds and she wanted to struggle with life but it seemed to elude her. Where were the singing bees for her?” (Hurston, 11) Janie’s grandmother believes that Janie needs a husband not lover. She wants Janie to marry a rich man. Nanny chooses Logan Killicks, an older man than Janie, because she believes he will provide for Janie all the material things she needs. Janie was neve... ... middle of paper ... ...troys their town. Janie is attacked by a wild dog and Tea Cake saves her from its powerful jaws, incurring a savage bite on his face. Several weeks later, Tea Cake is diagnosed with rabies. Tea Cake’s condition worsened to the point that in his delirium, he tried to shoot Janie. In self-defense Janie shot back and killed Tea Cake. Janie’s final state of awakening occurs in Etonville, where she finishes telling her friend Phoebe the story of her and Tea Cake. Janie realizes that she had attained her dreams, has lived them, and still keeps them in her heart. She keeps the memory of Tea Cake alive in her heart. Through the realization of her dream of love, Janie discovers herself, and this self-discovery is a joy that she will carry throughout her life. She has peace, because she finally knows who she is, and she is strong enough not to back away from that person.
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