Character Analysis of Janie Crawford in Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Janie Crawford lives in a world of constant disappointment and oppression. She was forced into a marriage with a man she barely knew, let alone loved, and then she left him to be with a man who offered her an endless amount of material possessions but virtually no adoration. Finally, after a seemingly endless streak of disappointment – Janie regains control of her life and overcomes oppression through the love of her newfound husband, Tea Cakes. Throughout the constant chaos of her life, Janie’s growth as a person is gradually shadowed by the growth of her voice and her ability to speak out and stand up for herself. Just like in real society, Janie uses speech as a mechanism for control and a vehicle for liberation.

In the beginning of the novel, Janie doesn’t really have a voice. Her grandma is her puppeteer – she has taken control of Janie and planned out her future. When Janie’s grandma witnesses her kissing Johnny Taylor, she decides to take Janie’s future into her own hands. Though Janie protests, her weak arguments do not impair her grandma’s determination to secure a safe and stable future for Janie – one that neither she nor Janie’s mom ever had. When her grandma forces Janie into a marriage with Logan Killicks, Janie is submissive – giving readers an insight into what Janie’s future might be like. Janie’s dream is to experience passion and natural love – which she imagined marriage to be like, “with kissing bees singing of the beginning of the world” (Hurston, 11) – but by stifling her protests against marrying Logan she is essentially giving up that dream. Janie soon realizes her mistake in marrying a man she did not love, and in an effort to seize her lost dream she runs off with Jody, who seems to be everything she’s ever dreamed of. He did not turn out to be her dream marriage though. While Jody is able to offer her an endless amount of material possessions, he provides her with virtually no spiritual content. He doesn’t let Janie talk; he...
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