In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie battles to find Individualism within
herself. Janie, all her life, had been pushed around and told what to do and how to live her life. She searched and searched high and low to find a peace that makes her whole and makes her feel like a complete person. To make her feel like she is in fact an individual and that she’s not like everyone else around her. During the time of ‘Their Eyes’, the correct way to treat women was to show them who was in charge and who was inferior. Men were looked to as the superior being, the one who women were supposed to look up to and serve. Especially in the fact that Janie was an African American women during these oppressed times. Throughout this book, it looks as though Janie makes many mistakes in trying to find who she really is, and achieving the respect that she deserves.
Living with her Grandmother and theWashburns’, Janie was surrounded and raised with white children. She always believed that she was white herself, and that she was no different than anybody else. As she was growing up, she was told what to do and how to live by her grandmother. Janie’s grandmother planned her life out for her. She told her that she must get married right away. “Yeah, Janie, youse got yo’ womanhood on yuh. So Ah mout ez well tell yuh whut Ah been savin’ up for uh spell. Ah wants to see you married right away.” Janie’s grandmother did want what was best for Janie, but she basically told her what to do instead of letting her know what she wanted for her. Janie’s grandmother told her exactly who she was going to marry and who she wasn’t even to think about. “Whut Ah seen just now is plenty for me, honey, Ah don’t want no trashy negro, no breath-and-britches, lak Johnny Taylor usin’ yo’ body to wipe his foots on. Brother Logan Killicks, he’s a good man.......You answer me when Ah speak. Don’t you set dere poutin’ wid me after all Ah done went through for you!” She is basically telling Janie that she can’t marry Johnny Taylor, the one she is exploring her womanhood
with, the one she wants, and that she must marry Logan, for protection. Towards the end
of the book, Janie resents her grandmother for “living” her life for her and planning her future. To find out what will happen in a persons future, they need to live their life on their own an...
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... and scratching the dandruff from her scalp.” Tea Cake and Janie obviously shared a special love between them as their relationship grew. The things he did for her made her feel unbelievable. They did things she had never even thought of. Tea Cake took her places she had never been. “To Janie’s strange eyes, everything in the Everglades was big and new.” Janie went to many new places and met many new people that she would’ve never met had she stayed with Logan or stayed in Eatonville with Joe. She would’ve just kept on living the same life...never doing anything new with the same boring people. With Tea Cake, Janie began to work, and to feel a certain freedom she had never felt before.
Janie found what she was looking for. She searched all her life to find what was within herself, and one special person was all that was needed to bring it out in her. Even though her and Tea Cake’s relationship ended in a tragedy, she knew that he really loved her for who she was. She didn’t need to be with him for protection, or she didn’t need to be the leading lady of a town or a mayor’s wife, she just needed the right kind of love and affection to bring out what was best in her.
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