In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie Crawford confronts social and emotional hardships that shape who she is from the beginning to the end of the novel. Living in Florida during the 1900s, it was very common for an African American woman to face discrimination on a daily basis. Janie faces gender inequality, racial discrimination, and social class prejudice that she is able to overcome and use to help her develop as a person.
Sexual dominance of males in this novel was a prominent view held by most of the main characters. Women are supposed to follow the demands of men and this is especially true for Janie in her relationship with Jody. Jody set very strict regulations for Janie during the time of their marriage. An example is with Janie’s hair. Jody requires that Janie hold her hair in a head rag because it didn’t make sense for her to have it down. In reality, Jody was jealous about how the other men looked at Janie when she had her hair down. In fact, “one night he had caught Walter standing behind and brushing the back of his hand back and forth across the loose end of her braid ever so lightly so as to enjoy the feel of it without Janie knowing what he was doing” (Hurston 55). This infuriated Jody and he ordered Janie to always have her hair tied up when she was in the store because, “she was there in the store for him to look at, not those others” (Hurston 55). Janie’s hair can be seen as a symbol of her independence, but with Jody’s demands, her independence is lost. This inequality only exists for Janie, because she is a woman. She could not make similar demands from Jody, or else she would be punished. However, in her relationship with Tea Cake, Janie is allowed to be somewhat free ...
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...ody about his position on mayor, “You’se always off talkin’ and fixin’ things, and Ah feels lak Ah’m jus’ markin’ time” (Hurston 46). Janie immediately does not like their new social position. It is taking time away from them being together as Jody is constantly attending to problems of the town. Her ideas on the higher position stay the same even into her relationship with Tea Cake, because he belonged to a lower class.
In the novel, Janie is a character who constantly faces discriminations that attack her identity and ideals. However, Janie is able to overcome the hardships of gender inequality, racism, and social class prejudice and use them to shape her character. This development of Janie is crucial to the understanding of the novel because it aids in understanding what life was like for an African American woman living in Florida after slavery was abolished.
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