Different Kinds of Joy
The pursuit of happiness is a reoccurring theme in numerous novels. In the novel, Their Eye’s Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, what brings happiness differs to each character. To the main character Janie, happiness is found in love, but to her grandmother Nanny, happiness is found in security. At first, Janie does what Nanny wills her to. At the age of 16, Janie marries into security. She is safe, but unhappy. Still yearning for love, Janie runs away with Mr. Starks. With Starks, Janie is once again safe, but unhappy. Starks then passes away, and Janie finds her true love, Tea Cake. Through Tea Cake Janie re-realizes her dream of love and abandons Nanny’s dream of security, she descends into the muck with Tea Cake, learning to love life too. To find happiness, Janie has to step down from her pedestal and into the muck. Hurston efficiently uses this reverse metaphor to convey that happiness comes from mutual love, and that this can be found anywhere, even from the muck of society. Nanny’s ideals in life and Janie’s are different. To “take a stand on high ground” (p16) is the ideal for Nanny. Nanny wants Janie to marry into security. With security, Janie could be safe from the abuse that her grandmother and mother had experienced. At first, this is what Janie does even though it is not what she wants. She wants to be in love, “to be a pear tree—any tree in bloom! With kissing bees and singing of the beginning of the world!” (p11). When Janie finds this, she realizes what Nanny’s dream had done to her. She realizes that her dreams had been “pinched it in to [into] such a little bit of a thing that she could tie her grandmother’s neck tight enough to choke her” (p89). With this realization, Janie’s dream rekindles. She realizes that mutual love, him loving her, and her “wants (wanting) to want him”, is all she needs to find love in life and herself. Janie’s search for love ends with Tea Cake. Janie and Tea Cake are...
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