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Zora Neale Hurston, the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God uses Janie’s experiences to show her struggle for self-realization. Hurston’s life is similar to Janie’s in how they are searching for love and self-realization. During Hurston’s childhood (1890’s), her father gave much attention to her sister, and she was jealous of her; Janie also felt “unloved” by Nanny, her grandmother. When Hurston was young, her family moved to Eatonville, Florida, where her dad became the mayor. Her experience parallels Janie’s life, when she moved to Eatonville with Jody, her second husband. Jody is much like Hurston’s father John that he is unaffectionate towards Janie, and gives her no freedom. Hurston’s mother Lucy had encouraged her to continue reading and writing, despite her husband’s wishes. When Zora was five years old (1896), the Supreme Court ruled that Separate but Equal was constitutional, and seventy-seven lynchings took place; which disclosed that she would have to work extra hard in order to earn recognition as a writer. At age eight, she announced that she wanted to be a poet; her mother was proud of her, but her father loathed her even more because of it. In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston shows Janie’s struggle for self-realization through love by all of Janie’s conquests.
From her search of love from: the pear tree, Nanny, Logan, Jody, and Tea Cake, Janie finds herself. The symbol of the pear tree relates to Janie’s coming of age, and makes Janie want to find marriage and to see the world. Nanny was dissolving this image by making her marry Logan Killicks. Janie was expecting to find love through her marriage with Logan, but instead discovered that marriage does not make love when Logan tries to force her to work. Janie meets Jody one day on Logan’s farm, and she believes that he will show her the world, and love, so she marries him, and leaves Logan. She soon discovers that all he wants to be is a big voice, and has only married her for his image. After Jody dies, Janie meets Tea Cake at her store; and, although he does not have a lot of money, she truly believes that he loves her, and will fulfill her life-long search for happiness. Tea Cake ends up being her true love, and she is happy with him, no matter where they are, or how rich they are.
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