Through her use of southern black language Zora Neale Hurston illustrates how to live and learn from life’s experiences. Janie, the main character in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a woman who defies what people expect of her and lives her life searching to become a better person. Not easily satisfied with material gain, Janie quickly jumps into a search to find true happiness and love in life. She finally achieves what she has searched for with her third marriage.
Unfortunately, however, after years of a happy marriage, Janie accidentally kills her husband during an argument. Her town forces her not only to deal with the grief, but to prove her innocence to a jury. Enduring and overcoming her three husbands and forty years of life experiences, Janie looks within herself to find and use her long hidden, but courageous voice.
Janie’s first attempt at love does not turn out quite like she hopes. Her grandmother forces her into marrying Logan Killicks. As the year passes, Janie grows unhappy and miserable. By pure fate, Janie meets Joe Starks and immediately lusts after him. With the knowledge of being wrong and expecting to be ridiculed, she leaves Logan and runs off with Joe to start a new marriage. This is the first time that Janie does what she wants in her search of happiness: “Even if Joe was not waiting for her, the change was bound to do her good…From now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything” (32). Janie’s new outlook on life, although somewhat shadowed by blind love, will keep her satisfied momentarily, but soon she will return to the loneliness she is running from.
At the beginning of he...
... middle of paper ...
...ply about a young black woman dealing with her husband’s death; but rather, it is the story of a young black woman dealing with life and learning from its experiences. The story starts out with Janie as a child and continues through her life, showing her growth as a person. By the end of the novel, Janie, an old woman, has dealt with many experiences and also much pain.
Through her three marriages, the death of her one true love, and proving her innocence in Tea Cake’s death, Janie learns to look within herself to find her hidden voice. Growing as a person from the many obstacles she has overcome during her forty years of life, Janie finally speaks her thoughts, feelings and opinions. From this, she finds what she has been searching for her whole life, happiness.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper Collins, 1990.
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