In Their Eyes Were Watching God a novel by African American writer Zora Neale Hurston from the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston shows the development of the character Janie Crawford throughout the story influenced by her marriages. Janie was raised by her grandmother, as she gets older she wants Janie to be happy so she marries her off to Logan. After Nanny’s death Janie runs away with Joe thinking he would treat her with more respect. But, finds out that he is very controlling and possessive of her. Once Joe dies she finds her true love Tea Cake with whom she realizes her identity.
Throughout the novel Janie hanges from being a teenage girl and becomes, a strong independant women, in which her marriage plays a major role. Throughout Janie’s marriage with Logan she felt disrespected, which made her look for someone who respects her as an African American woman. When Nanny marry’s Janie off to Logan, Janie have no idea of what kind of a person he is and once time passes by she comes to understand his personality. In the novel it states, “Ah’m as just as stiff as you is stout. If you can stand not to chop and tote wood I reckon you can stand not to git no dinner.
Scuse mah freezolity Mist’ Killicks, but Ah don’t ean to chop de first chip” (Hurston 26). Janie recognizes Logan as a disrespectful character, and his irritating behaviour towards her, and she doesn’t intend to be quiet with him, she speaks up for herself with respect towards him, even as he treats her like a slave. As she was doing the kitchen work and was making breakfast for him he complaints her about how she doesn’t work in the barn. In the story Hurston writes, “You ain’t got no particular place. It’s wherever ah need yuh. Git uh move on yuh, and dat quick” (31).
Janie couldn’t handle Logan abuse and disrespectful behavior. So, When she meets Joe she finally finds a chance to escape from Logan. In the Journal In search of Janie: Tracking Character Development and Literary Elements in Their Eyes Were Watching God it states, “Janie assesses the growing deterioration of their relationship and asserts herself for the first time by running away with Joe” (Berridge, 13). Because of Logan disrespect and abuse towards Janie she looks for someone who might respect her and finds Joe to be respectful and thinks he is perfect for her.
Her relationship with Logan, made her realize that she should be treated with respect regardless of her gender and race. Janie’s marriage with Joe was controlive , abusive and possessive which makes her seek for freedom. Joe is not as perfect as she thought he was, when she went with Joe to Eatonville and as he becomes the mayor he suddenly takes control of his wife. For example in the text it states, “Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife don’t know nothin’ ‘buot no speech makin’. Ah never married her fuh nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh a woman and her place is in de home” (Hurston 43).
Joe is very controlive of Janie, he doesn’t ask her if she likes to make a speech rather he’s deciding for her. She does not have any freedom or choice as a erson. When Janie is teased and questioned by the townspeople and Joe, she couldn’t take it anymore, so she replies them back and she’s being Judged for it, when all the while they did it to her. For example Hurston points out, “So he struck Janie with all his might and drove her from the store” (80). Joe is not what she expected him to be, he abuses her, for speaking up for herself.
When others insulted her, she has only insulted him once, yet he gets mad and abuses her to show that he controls her. Joe was possessive of Janie because he felt insecure beside his beautiful wife. He couldn’t stand the thought f she getting all the men’s attention. For example in the article A quest for identity in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God it states, “Immediately after Jody’s death she goes to the looking glass where she told herself to wait for her there she discovers that a handsome women has taken her place.
She tears off the kerchief that Jody has forced her to wear and lets down her plentiful hair” (Fard, Zarrinjooee 95). Joe was possessive of her beauty. He tried to hold it in by making her tie her hair up. But, When he dies she lets down her hair, telling the world that she now have freedom. By the end of her elationship with Jody, she learns that not only she should receive respect but, she’s a free woman, and therefore, should not be controlled, abused or possessed by anyone. She learns to look for someone who will appreciate her for who she is someone who lets her be her.
Janie’s marriage with Joe, was the happiest one, even though he was younger than her and everyone thought he would leave her. He was understanding, supportive and she finds herself with him. Joe respected her wishes, when he talks to Janie about going shooting, she says she don’t know how and he takes the time to teach her. According to Huston, Joe liked shooting, so he uys some rifles and pistols and along teaches Janie to shoot, and day after day it got better and, “she [even] got to be a better shot than Tea Cake” (131). Unlike her previous husbands, heever limited her from anything.
He taught her things that barely any men knew. He treated her as an equal. He understood what she wanted, so he never thinks twice about teaching her to shoot. All her other husbands told her what to do, they forced her to do things. But, with Teacake, she does all those things without being told. When Tea cake asks her about that Hurston notes Janie replying, “Ah naw, honey. Ah laks it. It’s mo’ nicer than ettin’ round dese quarters all day. Clerkin’ in dat store wuz hard, but heah, we ain’t got nothin’ tuh do but do our work and come home and love” (133). She loves to do work, when she is not being told what to do.
Tea cake does not want her to work, and he’s nice to her. All he asks of her is to be his wife and love him. He doesn’t expect much of her. Until she met Tea Cake, she didn’t know her own worth. She realizes how much she has been mistreated in her past life. In the Journal In search of Janie: Tracking Character Development and Literary Elements in Their Eyes Were Watching God, the author explains, “after her arriage to Teacake who has taught her a rich enjoyment and appreciation for life, she begins to truly celebrate her own worth and independence” (Berridge, 3).
After his death, she returns back to Eatonville, as someone who knows her own worth. She is a strong , independant woman. She walks around wearing Tea cake’s overalls. She don’t care what the townspeople think anymore. She don’t intend to correct them about what had happened. She is happier than ever before. She enjoys the freedom of being single and alone. She realizes that there is more to life than, blossoming pear trees and the bees to the blossom. Janie has changed throughout the novel, her marriage with Logan taught her that women should be treated with respect and learns to look for someone better.
Her marriage with Joe taught her that, she is not to be controlled, abused or possessed by anyone, especially not by her husband. Also that she’s not anyone’s property. She’s her own individual person. Her marriage with Teacake was a realization of herself. He is her only True love throughout the novel. The only husband she remembers after his death. After his death, she’s alone, but she celebrate being single and independent. She learned to celebrate her life.