Their Eyes Were Watching God

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In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their eyes were watching God the main character Janie is on a quest for self-fulfillment. Of Janie’s three marriages, Logan and Joe provide her with a sense of security and status. However, only her union with Teacake flourishes into true love. Janie’s first marriage to Logan Killicks was an arranged marriage by her Grandmother Nanny. One day Nanny caught Janie kissing the neighborhood riff raff Johnny Taylor, and Nanny becomes convinced that Janie has entered her womanhood, and needs to marry. Nanny chooses Logan Killicks for her granddaughter simply because he has sixty acres of land on the main road. Nanny believes that this would provide Janie with the added security needed to be a black woman during the time in which the novel is set.

Three months into the marriage, Janie realizes that she still does not feel any love for Logan, so she decides to give Nanny a visit. When Janie addresses her concerns to her grandmother, Nanny immediately dismisses them and tells Janie that her mind will change as time passes, and to think about Logan’s sixty acres of land. Janie is unsatisfied with this justification, and goes back home still with doubts about whether or not marriage will “end the cosmic loneliness of the unmarried”. A year into the marriage Janie decides that she is no longer happy in her marriage, she measures these months on terms of the seasons: “So Janie waited a bloom time, and a green time, and orange time . Janie is a sensual woman who grew up in nature and learned about sex and love from sitting underneath a pear tree and watching the bees spread pollen. Land is not enough to satisfy her desires and make her happy in her marriage.

The last straw for Janie is when Logan stops speaking in rhymes to her. To Janie rhymes and love go hand in hand, also Logan stopped looking at her black hair which is symbolic to her sexual identity, so when Logan stops looking at her hair and speaking in rhymes to Janie, it means to her that Logan doesn’t care about her anymore, so Janie begins to entertain other options. One day Logan tells Janie that he is going out to buy a mule, and wants her to do hard labor while he is gone Janie does not like this and offers to cut some potatoes instead. While Logan is out Janie meets, a man named Joe Starks from Georgia, who she describes as a citified stylishly dressed man, who to Janie is acting white. Joe was on his way to Eatonville to make a better life for himself, he asked Janie where her parents were and Janie explained that she is married and her husband was out getting a mule for her to plow. Joe expresses that that is not a way for her to be treated and asks her to leave Logan and marry him. Joe and Janie meet everyday for about two weeks. One day Janie and Logan get into an argument about who was going to move the mule’s manure, when Janie refuses, Logan threatens to kill her with an axe . At that moment, Janie decides to run off with Joe who reminds her that she is young and beautiful and appeals to her need to have someone in her age group. The first thing that Janie and Joe have in common is their love for sugar and water. In addition, Joe is goal oriented and dreams big whereas Logan’s dreams only extended as far as the sixty acres of land he owns. Janie has big dreams as well and felt suffocated by Logan’s one-dimensional dreams especially when she says to him “you don’t take nothin’ to count but sowbelly and cornbread” . Janie and Joe get married and move to Eatonville, the town is not what Joe expects it to be and takes the lead on rebuilding the community. The townspeople immediately fall to his attention because of his “white like portrayal” which gives him a different level of status amongst the townspeople. Joe builds up the town and for all his hard work, the townspeople decide that he should be mayor. Janie begins to see that her first marriage is repeating itself neither Joe Starks nor Logan Killicks speak in rhymes to her...
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