Thier Eyes Were Watching God Essay, Research Paper
Love and Marriage
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
is a novel about a Southern black woman and her
experiences through life. Janie, the main character, is
forced at a young age by her grandmother, into an
arranged marriage with a man named Logan. Janie is told
to learn to love Logan, but the love never comes for
Logan in Janie?s heart so she leaves him. She meets a
man named Joe. Soon after they are married. Joe was
sweet at first, then his true feelings about women come
out and Janie looses her love she thought she had for
him. He soon dies after their separation. Janie then
falls in love with a man named Tea Cake. He is the man
with whom she has a wonderful, loving, happy marriage.
Janie, through youth and lack of empowerment, is mislead
to believe other people?s definitions of love and
marriage until she is strong enough to find a
relationship on her own which satisfies her personal
definitions of love and marriage.
Nanny, Janie?s grandmother, leads her to believe
that love comes after marriage though love is secondary
to the security marriage provides. Nanny feels marriage
was simply for security and to start a family. ?Taint
Logan Killicks Ah wants you to have baby, it?s
protection.?(pg. 14). Nanny says this to Janie before
her arranged marriage to Logan. Nanny wants Janie to be
financially set with her life before she dies and leaves
Janie to fend for herself. Nanny wants her to start a
family. Nanny makes Janie think that love is just
going to come along after the marriage. Right after
Janie?s marriage to Logan, Janie says she is going to
go into her kitchen and wait for the love to begin.
Nanny lets Janie believe that you need a man to take
care of you and provide for you. According to Nanny,
you have to marry a man who has money because too much
trouble comes with marrying a poor man.
Joe marries Janie strictly for social appearance.
Joe wants to have empowerment and he thinks a woman,
like Janie, would help his image. He wants to run a
town and the only way he feels he can look good is to
have a pretty woman by his side. In the beginning of
their marriage Joe treats he like a queen. He tells her
that his woman needs to relax in the shade sipping on
molasses water and fanning herself from the hot sun.
Janie fell in love with the idea. Joe?s words, however,
were deceiving. He actually means that woman need to
stay home to cook and clean while the man goes out to
make the money. Joe often puts Janie down in public
saying things like, ?Thank yuh fuh yo compliments, but
mah wife don?t know nothin bout no speech makin. Ah
married her for nothin lak that. She?s a woman and her
place is in de home.?(pg. 40-41). Joe publicly
humiliates Janie constantly saying she is as low as
mules. Joe feels that his marriage is a part of his
image, a part of his job. He does not marry her for
love. Joe marries Janie to look good in front of the
people who look up to him.
Her marriage to Tea Cake is opposite from both of
her previous marriages. Tea Cake teaches Janie that
women can do the same fun things that men can, like
fishing and playing checkers. Tea Cake makes Janie feel
like she can do anything. Tea Cake makes Janie a part
of his social life and this is something new to Janie?s
life. Tea Cake gives Janie a wonderful feeling. Tea
Cake makes her feel like an equal human being. The love
she feels for Tea Cake and the love she is given in
return helps Janie truly understand what love means.
Janie, finds in the end, that love is undeniable.
It is a different experience for each person you spend
your time with. Janie finds different kinds of ?love?
with each of her husbands. Her marriage to Logan makes
her realize that marriage does not bring love. This
experience makes her grow into a real woman. She grows
up and starts to think for herself. Janie?s marriage to
Joe is also a growing experience for her because it let
her know that a man?s sweet words are not always true.
She realizes that you have to get to know a person and
build some trust and get to know a person before you get
into a relationship. ?Love is lak de sea. It?s a movin
thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de
shore it meets and its different with every shore.?
Janie is saying that love takes a different form
depending on who you are with, each different person
representing the shores. This shows Janie?s growth
because she says that no matter what you do you have to
grow into a love and you can not predict what your next
experience is going to be or even who it is going to be
with. You can not prejudge love. It just comes
naturally or it does not. You either connect with a
person or you do not.
Janie takes each person she is close to and all the
situations her life brings to her forms her own opinions
on love. Janie grows from a dreamy child with her fairy
tale thoughts on love to knowing that you can not
predict what comes in the future. Janie went from
letting everyone in her life telling her what love means
to having a set definition, a personal definition, on
what love really means to her. Not one person can come
and tell Janie anything different about love. Janie
finally has a mind of her own.