Essay on How Voices Play an Important Role in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

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The power of speech plays an important part in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Each character starts off with their own unique voice. The strength and control of a caharacers’ voice changes throughout the novel determining their place in society and relationship with others.

Logan Killicks’ voice changes between the beginning and the end of his marriage with Janie. At the start of their marriage Logan talks to Janie with sweet words and rhymes. This leads Janie to believe that her marriage to Logan might be bearable after all. But, as the marriage progresses Logan stops pampering Janie with his charming words and begins to force her to work. As Janie grows to resent her marriage with Logan and their relationship becomes increasingly tense, Logan’s final death threat ends their marriage.

During Janie’s marriage with Joe Starks Janie’s voice is slowly silenced through Joe’s acts of physical and verbal abuse. For example, when Janie decides to voice her opinion about women Joe swiftly orders her to be quiet and retrieve a checker board. As Janie loses her voice she becomes more subimissive towards Joe’s commands. Joe’s use of his own voice overpowers Janie’s, so Joe gains control in the relationship. But as Janie becomes frustrated with Joe and his abuse she finally decides to speak up to silence Joe by questioning his manhood and leaving him no room to retreat. This outburst liberates Janie from his control, and she gains a new freedom.

Janie’s marriage with Tea Cake is filled with love and affection, which can be seen with their loving voices toward each other. But Tea Cake;s voice changes after contracting rabies to cold and distrusting. He becomes waty towards Janie’s every action and begins to lose the love he shared because his thoughts were starting to become skewed. His madness reaches a point that Janie’s voice, no matter how hard she tries, no longer reaches him. The power of speech alters the balance within a society through a...
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