Essay Their Eyes Were Watching God

Essay Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Often in stories of self-realization and self-love, there is an incident that is often overlooked. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, such is the case. While many people tend to believe that Janie’s relationship with Teacake was the central time when she realized who she was, Her marriage with Joe Starks is often ignored in the big picture. Janie realized what she didn’t want and not to settle and that helped her accept Teacake later on in the book. Jody’s ideals did not mesh with a Janie and caused a lot of conflict. Throughout their twenty-year marriage, three events symbolized the rift between Jody and Janie; The first was his refusing to allow Janie to speak at the towns opening ceremony, Janie’s public response to Jody’s ridicule of her, and Jody’s rejection of Janie while on his deathbed.

After Janie’s complete failure of marriage with Logan Killicks, She was looking for what was missing with their relationship. When Joe came down the road, She saw things being significantly different than what she had with Killicks. Jody stood for things she found fascinating. “…He spoke for far horizon. He spoke for change and chance.” (29). And although Jody did not represent the Pear tree which symbolized Janie’s ideal complementary man, He was more than what Killicks offered.

Unfortunately, Jody was in a lot of ways worse than Killicks was after they were married. There was an overriding theme of Janie’s silence while she was with Joe. Perhaps the biggest example and a preview of things to come was when Jody finished all of the town improvements and as a show of gratitude, the townspeople held an opening ceremony for the new Mr. And Mrs. Mayor Starks. During the ceremony, Janie was asked to say a few words and offer some encouragement from the crowd. But Jody rushed onto the stage to refuse Janie the opportunity to speak. “Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife don’t know nothin’ bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh woman and her place is in de home” (43). This was one of the first of many times when Janie would be silent and not allowed to speak her mind. After Jody interrupted the ceremony, Janie was just upset that she didn’t even get the opportunity to speak. “She had never thought of making a speech, and didn’t know if she cared to make ...


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...ut Jody wanted her to do his wishes and when she resented some of the orders he gave her, he got angry because he demanded her unconditional obedience. But unfortunately, Jody passed because he could not accept her independence as a woman. And this was manifested in her not being allowed to speak in public, his constant ridicule of her and his rejection of her while he was on his deathbed.

Works Cited

Hurston, Zora Neale Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: HarperCollins, 1998

Callahan, John F.“The Rhetoric of Intamacy and Immensity” in Bloom, Harold ed. Modern Critical Interpretations, Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. New York: Chelsea House, 1987

Meese, Elizabeth. “Orality and Textuality” in Bloom, Harold ed. Modern Critical Interpretations, Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. New York: Chelsea House, 1987

Walker, S. Jay “Zora Neale Hurston” in Bloom, Harold ed. Modern Critical Interpretations, Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. New York: Chelsea House, 1987

Wall, Cheryl A. “Zora Neale Hurston” in Draper, James P ed. Black Literature Criticism. Vol 2; Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992

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