Perceptions of Marriage in Their Eyes Were Watching God

Perceptions of Marriage in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Perceptions of Marriage in Their Eyes Were Watching God


        For generations marriage has been accepted as a bond between two

people.  However, the ideals involved in marriage differ by the individuals

involved.  The book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

clearly demonstrates these differences.  In the book a girl by the name

Janie is raised by her grandmother and then married off by her grandmother.

Originally all Janie knows of marriage and love is what her grandmother

tells her.  As Janie moves on in her life and re-marries, she finds that

everybody has their own idea towards the role of their spouses in marriage.

Over time Janie begins to develop her own ideas and ideals.  In Their Eyes

Were Watching God each principle character has their own perceptions

towards marriage.


        The first ideas that Janie was exposed to was those of her

grandmother, Nanny. Nanny saw that Janie was entering womanhood and she

didn't want Janie to experience what her mother went through.  So Nanny set

out to marry her as soon as possible.  When Janie asked about love, she was

told that marriage makes love and she will find love after she marries

Logan.  Nanny believed that love was second to stability and security.

Only after those first two criteria were satisfied then and only then could

one experience love.  Nanny felt that a young girl like Janie was too young

to make decisions for herself, so when she caught Janie exploring her

womanhood Nanny felt that she needed to marry Janie as quickly as possible

so that she could find love in a safe a secure environment.  Nanny has her

own ideals when it comes to marriage and Janie will soon learn that

everyone's are different.


        Second, Janie sees Logan Killicks' perception of marriage.  In the

beginning it appears to Janie that Logan is a very nice gentleman, who is

constantly treating her well.  However as time goes on, Janie see Logan's

"true colors."  Logan feels that if they are both going to live together

and share their lives then they should do an equal amount of work.  Logan

soon puts Janie to work and treats her more like a mule than a wife.  Logan

didn't want a wife out of marriage; he wanted a pack animal.  Also, love

doesn't seem to be incorporated in Logan's definition of marriage.  As

Janie said "Ah know ‘tain't nothin' dere."  Logan didn't see marriage in

terms of love, he only saw it in terms of free labor.


        After leaving Logan in search of love Janie finds Jody Starks.

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Jody Starks is a thriving politician with a hard work ethic.  He says he

loves Janie and even treats her the way a queen should be treated.  Jody

keeps Janie looking prim and proper in the house and store.  Jody truly

believes that women should be seen and not heard.  Jody believes that in a

marriage that the man is boss and the wife should listen to him.  He is a

true politician; on the outside he appears kind and gentle but from within

he is corrupt.  Janie still can't find love and continues her search.


        The final person that Janie attempts to find love in is Tea Cake

Woods.  Tea Cake comes in a rescues Janie from her misery after the death

of Jody.  It is here that Janie finally finds what true love is.  Tea

Cake's idea of marriage is a mutual relationship where he would prefer to

support Janie.  However when times are rough Janie willingly helps Tea

Cakes in the fields.  Tea Cake believes in being completely honest with

Janie and doesn't try to hold anything from her.  Also, like Nanny Tea Cake

sought protection for Janie he didn't want anything to happen to her; and

in the end he laid down his life for her.  Tea Cake's perception of

marriage is different from the others but it is still his own ideals.


        And the last person who has ideas about marriage is Janie herself.

In the beginning she felt that marriage made love.  But soon she found that

to be untrue.  In each of her marriages she found that marriage

expectations were different for everyone.  In fact Janie's parting word's

were, "you must tell ‘em date love Anita smoothen' la ugh grindstone data's

de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tub everything it touch.

Love is la de sea.  It's ugh moving' thing, but still and all, it takes

shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore."  Janie

found that marriage changes with the participants and you must find one

with who you are compatible.


        Everyone has separate ideas of what marriage should be. As Janie

learned marriage is what you make of it.  Love can only be found when your

beliefs coincide with another's ideas.  Even today people find out the hard

way that they are not compatible and that everyone's perception of marriage

is different.  This can be seen everyday among couples who separate and

among others whose marriages last the rest of their lives.  Life is a

learning process and we must take the bad with the good.



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