Janie: a Hero?

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In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston created a heroine in Janie Crawford. Janie overcame many obstacles of her time. Acceptance into the community, self-discovery, and courageousness are some of Janie's obstacles.

In the beginning of the story, Janie is stifled and does not truly reveal her identity. When caught kissing Johnny Taylor, a local boy, her nanny marries her off to Logan Killicks. While with Killicks, the reader never learns who the real Janie is. Janie does not make any decisions for herself and displays no personality. Janie takes a brave leap by leaving Killicks for Jody Starks. Starks is a smooth talking power hungry man who never allows Janie express her real self. The Eatonville community views Janie as the typical woman who tends to her husband and their house. Janie does not want to be accepted into the society as the average wife. Before Jody dies, Janie is able to let her suppressed anger out.

When Tea Cake enters Janie's life, Janie really starts to come out of her shell. She lets down her hair that was kept up the entire time with Starks. This symbolizes Janie letting all her inhibitions out. In finding Tea Cake, Janie has "completed her voyage" of self-discovery. Tea Cake allows her to feel exhilarated and young again. She makes more friends and becomes more social. During this time in her life Janie is an excellent role model for other black women. She does not give a second look at what other people think about her, which is very admirable. This is shown when Hezekiah Potts tells Janie that Tea Cake is too low of a man for Janie yet, she stills persists on seeing him. Many people also think that Tea Cake is courting Janie for her money only. Janie pays no regard to these onlookers though.

Tea Cake's death strains Janie emotionally. It takes a lot of bravery and courage for Janie to make such a tragic decision. Should she go with her heart, to not kill the love of her life? Her other choice is to go with her head. Should she kill an insane person who is trying to kill her first? Many times, a hero is encountered with such a life or death decision similar to Janie's.
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