Search for Identity in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Search for Identity in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the main character Janie struggles to find herself and her identity. Throughout the course of the novel she has many different people tell her who she should be and how she should behave, but none of these ideas quite fit Janie. The main people telling Janie who she should be is her grandmother and Janie’s 3 husbands. The people in Janie's life influence her search for identity by teaching her about marriage, hard work, class, society, love and happiness.
Janie's outlook on life stems from the system of beliefs that her grandmother, Nanny instills in her during life. These beliefs include how women should act in a society and in a marriage. Nanny and her daughter, Janie's mother, were both raped and left with bastard children, this experience is the catalyst for Nanny’s desire to see Janie be married of to a well-to-do gentleman. She desires to see Janie married off to a well to do gentleman because she wants to see that Janie is well cared for throughout her life.
As a result of Nanny’s desire to see Janie married to wealth, she forces Janie to marry Logan Killocks, an older black farmer who owns 60 acres and a mule. Janie does not love Logan but because Nanny pushes her into the marriage she believes love will follow marriage, but Nanny quickly says “You come head wid yo’ mouf full uh foolishness on uh busy day. Heah you got uh prop tuh lean on all yo’ bawn days, and big protection, and everybody got tuh tip dey hat tuh you and call you Mis’ Killicks, and you come worryin’ me ‘bout love." (3.17-20). Nanny believes a woman should be satisfied with her amount of property and Janie has trouble agreeing. Janie feels she has done something wrong by not being in love with L...


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...ty that does not encourage that kind of behavior in women. During the novel she is told what to do, how to do it and at one point who to marry. She struggles with her growing unhappiness until she finally meets her true love.



Bibliography

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Their Eyes Were Watching God." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: HarperCollins, 20061937. Print.

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Their Eyes Were Watching God.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2007. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.

"Janie's Learning Experiences in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston :: Their Eyes Watching God Hurston." 123 Help Me. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. .

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