Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Janie is the novel's hero. The story is told in first person as she narrates the story of her life to her friend Pheoby Watson. This is a story of one woman's search for love in the world. From the beginning of Janie’s story under the pear tree, she tries desperately to “find who she is” and this consist of obtaining three different husbands. Janie has gone through a lot in her life time the fact that she is a product of white rape - causes her to be lighter-skinned than other black women. Because Janie is an “unusual” woman concerning her physical characteristics this is a major factor during her marriage to Joe Starks and interactions with Mrs. Turner.
Joe (Jody) Starks is Janie's second husband. She meets one day while still married to Logan. Joe proposes to Janie several weeks later, she accepts and feels that she can finally get away from Logan and start a new life. Joe's desire is to be a "big voice," in the community. This soon creates conflict for his new wife. Janie understands she is an “ornament” for Joe because of her physical characteristics. Joe wants Janie to be seen and not heard. He wants her to be his “light-skinned trophy” for the people of Eatonville to envy.
Joe realizes that his wife Janie is very beautiful and he becomes jealous of other men lusting after her. Because of this, Joe restricts Janie by forcing her to always tend the store and wear a head rag to hide her beautiful hair. Joe wants complete control of Janie and sometimes he beats her when she does not obey him.
I feel that Joe's search for power and to have the dominant role over women is very emphasized and presence. To “top it off”, Joe makes Eatonville's black community “bow” to him as non-equals.
Sometimes the things that Joe does are traditional white behavior. When Joe dies his meanness left him friendless, with only Janie by his side. After Joe Starks dies, Janie realizes that her grandmother had "taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon…and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter's neck tight enough to choke her. She hated the old woman who had twisted her so in the name of love" (85).
The novel's title is taken from Chapter 18, as the hurricane strikes the Everglades.

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Tea Cake and Janie "sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if he meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God" (151). This passage is connected with other events in Their Eyes Were Watching God. It also expresses God's will, which is unchanging because God is good and nobody can ever predict what he is going to do. What God does is inevitable because he is almighty, the King of Kings and he knows everything. This novel ends with Janie recognizing that people have to be watching God because life comes down hard sometime. This is evident with many of the main characters throughout the novel, especially Janie.

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