Sister Carrie and Their Eyes Were Watching God

Sister Carrie and Their Eyes Were Watching God

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The Struggle for the Perfect Man in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

When we find a love interest and have an opportunity to commit to him or her, we usually do, not noting the consequences we may face by doing so. The first few times around, however, the outcome is usually not the one we had expected and hoped for. Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God portray two young women on their trek to find the perfect love. Even though Carrie Meeber and Janie Crawford have almost nothing in common, they both shared the impact of the same consequences. Carrie and Janie show how people of countless numbers of backgrounds can share the same experiences and consequences through their journey of love.
The first relationship often makes a big impact on the person, one that they will never forget. Carrie’s journey begins on her train ride to Chicago. A very handsome and rich man, Drouet, takes note of Carrie and begins talking to her. She becomes overwhelmed at his quick advancement upon her and becomes weak and vulnerable. She quickly takes interest in him and does not know how to act or what to think as shown in this passage:

There was something satisfactory in the attention of this individual with good clothes….She realized that she was of interest to him from the one standpoint which a woman both delights in and fears. Her manner was simple, though for the very reason that she had not yet learned the many little affections with which women conceal their true feelings.
(pp. 11-12, Sister Carrie)

Carrie didn’t know what to expect when she got together with Drouet. She loved the wealth and money, and believed she loved Drouet. After a while she began to realize that she really didn’t love him. But she thought that marriage would be a guarantee against losing his affection and generosity. Janie, on the other hand, was forced into her first relationship, in which this case was a marriage. Janie thought she could grow to love Logan, but did not. She soon learned that marriage did not make love. Logan did nothing wrong, Janie was just looking for something else, someone who could love her the way she wanted to be loved.
     In the second relationship, things are often thought to be better, but it’s not always the case.

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Both Carrie and Janie thought that they could make their lives better if they could just leave what they had behind and go off with someone else who they thought could be what they had always dreamed of. Janie meets Joe Starks, who tempts Janie into leaving Logan by telling her “‘You ain’t got no mo’ business wid uh plow than uh hog is got wid uh holiday!…A pretty doll-baby lak you is made to sit on de front porch and rock and fan yo’self…’” (p. 28, Their Eyes Were Watching God). Janie eventually finds unhappiness with Joe but doesn’t do anything to escape from him. Carrie meets Hurstwood, and begins seeing him. After Hurstwood goes bankrupt, Carrie gets a job and leaves Hurstwood after learning that she can support herself.
     The third time around is where Carrie and Janie suffer the worst consequences. Carrie meets a young man named Robert Ames. Despite the kindness he intrigues her with, he was not concerned with emotions towards Carrie. She was left in loneliness only to dream of what she didn’t have, as noted here: “In your rocking chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel.” (pp.464-465, Sister Carrie). Janie finally met the “true love” of her life, Tea Cake. He treated and loved her the way she wanted him to. Unfortunately, Tea Cake contracted rabies and Janie had to shoot him out of self defense.
     Love is a very complicated subject. No one knows whom he or she will find as their true love, nor do they know when. We go through many different experiences and can share and understand one another’s, from prior experience ourselves. Carrie and Janie’s stories are just examples of what one might find on his or her journey through love, and they help us to understand why things happen the way they do. Even though everyone may not go up the same path at the same time, they all end up going down one main road, and therefore suffer the same consequences as everyone else has.
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