In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, we hear a story of a beautiful woman, Janie. Janie, as a child, is introduced to an idea of love and ever since wishes for romance. As she grows older, Janie runs into difficulties due to her gender. She ends up marrying two men, Logan and Joe, who continues to control Janie. After meeting Tea Cake, on the other hand, Janie is able to reach freedom. Janie wanted to reach her love, the dream, the horizon. In the process, Janie experiences oppression from Logan and Jody. Through Tea Cake’s help, Janie is able to take full control over herself.
Throughout the entire ovel, we see Janie’s oppression just for the exeption that she is a woman. In the beginning of the book, we witness Janie and her stage of maturity: “She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was marriage! ” (11). From her observation of the bees and flowers, Janie is desperate to find her luxurious love in the future.
Nanny, however, wanted Janie to marry a man as soon as possible. She didn’t want Janie to be used by other men. Unfortunately, she is forced to marry Logan. She asked Nanny, “Did marriage end the cosmic loneliness of the unmated? Did marriage compel love like the sun the day? ” (21). Janie is unsure if marrying a person she didn’t truly love is the correct decision. Ending up with Logan only led downhill. Logan treats Janie as a working partner. He only “chops all de wood” (23), and does not show a tiny bit of romance.
In fact, when Janie wishes to leave Logan, Logan threatened her saying he would “take holt uh dat ax and come in dere and kill yuh” (31). Janie realizes that Nanny was wrong; love did not come after marriage. Although Janie left Logan, the oppression does not stop. Janie marries Joe who forces Janie to run the town market herself. Joe also does not let Janie intervene with the rest of the town: “Janie loved the conversations and sometimes she thought up good stories on the mule, but Joe had forbidden her to indulge” (53). “No matter what Jody did, she said nothing. ” (76).
We can observe that Janie has lost her voice, and Joe is taking full control of her. Once Joe ages to death, Janie, in frustration, “burnt up every one of her head rags”, a material which was restraining her from the rest of Eatonville. Due to Nanny’s forced marriage, Janie had to spend her early stage of life with disrespectful men, who took full advantage of her. In juxtaposition, once Janie meets Tea Cake, she breaks free from all oppression. Tea Cake, respectfully, greets her by asking her to play checkers. Janie “found herself glowing inside. Somebody wanted her to play.
Someone thought it was natural for her to play” (96). She was amazed of the fact that Tea Cake assumed she knew how to play, regardless of her gender. Every one of Tea Cake’s characteristic attracts Janie. He is an attractive man, romantic, and respectful. What brought Tea Cake apart from Logan and Joe was that Tea Cake did not force anything. When Janie worried whether or to marry Tea Cake or not, Tea Cakes says “Nobody else on earth kin hold uh candle tuh you, baby. You got de keys to de kingdom” (109). Tea Cake wants to inform Janie that she has full control over the relationship.
Ultimately, Janie’s marriage with Tea Cake released Janie from her cage, and Janie breaks free from the oppression. Unluckily, Janie runs into a major problem: a storms hits Jacksonville. This triggers a chain of reactions, which ends up killing Tea Cake. This strikes Janie with depression. Janie entions “The day of the gun, and the bloody, body, and the courthouse came and commenced to sing a sobbing sigh out of every corner in the room” (192). Janie kept recalling the moment when she shoots and kills Tea Cake. The author goes on stating, “It was the meanest moment of eternity.
A minute before she was just a scared human being fighting for its life. Now she was her sacrificing self with Tea Cake’s head in her lap” (184). Then, Janie “held [Tea Cake’s] head tightly to her breast and wept and thanked him wordlessly forgiving her the chance for loving service. ” (184). These passages helps us put ourselves in Janie’s hoes and commemorate her grief and loss. Not long after, Janie’s grief ends and she takes a moment to show respect for Tea Cake. Differing from Joe’s death, Janie will never forget Tea Cake.
Janie brings “a package of garden seed that Tea cake had been waiting for the night time of the moon when his sickness overtook him. The seeds reminded Janie of Tea Cake more than anything else because he was always planting things” (191). When Janie returns home, she “plant them for remembrance” (191). Near the end of the story, Janie believes Teacake could “never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking” (193). In fact, Janie imagines of Tea Cake coming towards her: ” Tea Cake came prancing around her where she was and the song of the sigh flew out of the window and lit in the top of the pine tree.
Tea Cake, with the sun for a shawl. Of course he wasn’t dead” (193). Janie also says, “The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall” (193). These passages depicts Janie and Tea Cake romance, and Janie taking a moment to respect the love Tea Cake has given. There is a recurring theme of gender oppression in Janie’s story. The essential reason why Janie is so thankful for Tea Cake s not his romance, but it is his respect. Tea Cake’s respect for Janie guides her out of oppression. Janie “pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net.
Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. ” (193). As mentioned before, Janie’s journey of reaching the horizon is rather painful. Janie had to go through many obstacles in the process of achieving true love. Janie had to go through social oppression, like Logan threatening her, and Joe forcing her to keep her mouth shut. However, when Tea Cakes joins Janie, all of this oppression disappears. Janie “called in her soul to come and see” (193). She alls her lost, oppressed soul to come and watch for herself. This is the moment when Janie’s inner self intertwines with her outer identity.
She tells herself that nothing in the world will take advantage of her anymore. This passage shows Janie rejecting the abusement she has gone through. All the abusement from Logan and Jody goes down the drain. Beforehand, Janie “had an inside and an outside” (72). Now, Tea cake helps merge Janie’s inside and her outside. He guides her to freedom. Fundamentally, Tea Cake comes into Janie’s damaged life and heals her wounds, and at the end, helps her regain her voice. Tea Cake is Janie’s savior. Janie dripped blood while trying to grasp the horizon.
Janie has been oppressed severely that has made her have an inner self and an outer self. She was not able to say things she wanted to. Fortunately, Tea Cake stops Janie from bleeding. Differing from other men, Tea cake says Janie had the “keys to the kingdom. ” Tea Cake let Janie take full control over herself and the relationship. Once Tea Cake was dead, Janie recalls how respectful Tea Cake has been. This respect brought Janie to joy, and the joy is a symbol of Janie rejecting all the oppression she has gone through, which essentially brought Janie to freedom.