The novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, tells the story of Janie Crawford, an African-American woman in her search for a sense of identity and freedom. It also demonstrates that our lives should not be determined by others, but rather we should have the agency to make our own decisions. Hurston displays this theme through Janie’s courage in her journey.
She is always searching for something new and never stays where she isn’t happy despite societal expectations or even warnings from those around her. This is shown especially when she leaves Logan Killicks, who was picked out for her from a young age. However, she did not love him or find him someone who truly fulfilled her both emotionally and spiritually.
Through Janie’s bravery, Hurston conveys an inspiring message about embracing life’s unpredictable nature with confidence―and leads readers towards understanding what it means to live their very own authentic life.
Janie quickly realizes that marriage to Logan Killicks was not going to be a dream come true or the way of life she had been hoping for. She expresses her feelings with Nanny about being trapped in an unsuitable and loveless marriage, but she is still expected to conform and settle into this arranged lifestyle.
Even though accepting the situation could have been easier, Janie chooses resistance as opposed to surrendering completely. This decision leads her on a journey to find true purpose and freedom from society’s expectations.
Despite Nanny’s warnings for Janie to not fall into the same trap, she follow her heart. She married Joe Starks and found some external aspects of happiness such as a better home, nicer clothing, more money and even more respect from others. However, on the inside Janie felt empty with no satisfying piece of life people have when they find love.
The relationship was stressful and oppressive because Joe has always wanted control over his wife by trying to dominate her. “Joe wanted her submission all right—all right but not too much-not enough to cramp his style in any way.
And he couldn’t bear thinking that if he owned everything else out there-the sun and moon included -that somebody else held the title deed to Janie’s love”(Hurston 75). This clearly shows how Janie is struggling in this marriage compared to her previous ones where she had hardly any voice or rights.
After this she finally puts him in his place and she’s able to move her life forward, finding true joy after an overwhelming experience. Janie finds love again with Tea Cake who from the start treats her like a lady and respects her opinion, unlike Joe Stark.
With Tea Cake it wasn’t about power or domination but about loving each other for real “It was just genius-love looking at her and marveling that such beauty should be his….she knew now what there is between men and women that makes fire run along under man’s skin as electricity (Hurston 155). She no longer needed words to describe what true, honest love was like; she found it naturally with Tea Cake even though they had completely different backgrounds.
Janie had become a source of power for herself and she was determined to not let anyone take that away from her. She has come so far in gaining the freedom she wanted and obtaining confidence in who she is as well. Janie’s story resonates with many women today, considering how even though we have progressed within society the issue of gender equality still persists.
It can be seen how much opportunity there has been to improve the lives of women, but also how long it takes us to get truly liberated. This why Janie’s battle should still be remembered by all, showing us while no one else may want or know understanding; knowing yourself and your purpose is key on your journey towards success.
Janie’s newfound freedom is an amazing moment in the novel and she really takes what means to be independent to heart. As Janie explores her sexuality with Tea Cake, we see how she feels that her love life isn’t taboo and can be whatever she wants it to be.
We also feel the same emotions with Grape Street, as they come out of such a difficult situation into a bright future with what could be considered family helping each other out when needed. This feeling of liberation reflects true strength both emotionally and physically by Janie who proves wrong anyone else questioning what she has gone through or will go through in order to live freely.
Although their time together was short and ended tragically, Janie finds a deep contentment with Tea Cake. For the first time in her life she has been truly and utterly loved for who she is, instead of simply being an accessory to another man’s ambitions or goals.
As a result, Janie blossoms into a woman fulfilled by love, finding strength and resilience despite all that had happened in her past relationships. Too bad it wasn’t meant to last as danger from the hurricane swept away their happy ending. Nevertheless, Tea Cake still remains an important part of Janie’s journey towards fulfillment even after his death.
He teaches her that although it is hard, there are more valuable and meaningful aspects to life beside being in a relationship. His teachings include “Don’t you never go back on your own people…Go into the world and make them pay for the way they treat us” (Hurston 211).
This statement can be interpreted in many different ways; no matter what, Janie will always have his guidance with her whether he is physically present or not. His words speak volumes about who he is as a person and how much he cares for Janie’s wellbeing even at times when she does not put herself first. He accepts her for who she is and pushes her to take control of her own life, something that has been absent from Janie’s past relationships.
Janie’s journey is a powerful reminder of what it means to be an independent woman, and this message is just as relevant today as when the book was originally published in 1937. We live in a world where women are starting to finally gain more freedoms and recognition for their accomplishments. Janie’s story serves as an example that with courage and fortitude, we can all strive for our own sense of freedom.
At the start of her journey, she was told by her grandmother “Ah been prayin’ fuh one thing dis long time come true … Ah wants tuh see yuh married agin… dat’s whut Ah wans! Dat’s de heaven mah soul sighs foh!’ (Hurston 11). By the end, however, Janie has achieved something much greater than marriage: inner peace and contentment with herself.
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