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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
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.