Janie Crawford is surrounded by outward influences that contradict her independence and personal development. These outward influences from society, her grandma, and even significant others contribute to her curiosity. Tension builds between outward conformity and inward questioning, allowing Zora Neal Hurston to illustrate the challenge of choice and accountability that Janie faces throughout the novel.
Janie’s Grandma plays an important outward influence from the very beginning. Her perspective on life was based off of her experience as a slave. “Ah was born back due in slavery so it wasn’t for me to fulfill my dreams of whut a woman oughta be and to do.” (16) She felt that financial security, respectability, and upward mobility were all things to be valued in Janie’s life. Her Grandma’s influence led Janie to her first marriage to Logan Killicks. Despite her choice to marry Logan, Janie had always felt that “Husbands and wives always loved each other, and that was what marriage meant.”(21) The absence of love was immediately recognized and Janie’s mind began to wonder. Once again her Grandma reminded her that she “Got a house bought and paid for and sixty acres uh land right on de big road… Dat’s the very prong all us black women gits hung on. Dis Love!”(23) Janie and her Grandma valued different aspects of life, nonetheless, Janie conformed. The outward existence convinced Janie into an empty marriage, when inside Janie questioned her Grandma’s motifs.
As time went on, new opportunities arose. “He spoke for change and chance. Still she hung back. The memory of Nanny was still powerful and strong.” (29) Joe Starks was a relief for Janie. At this point her desires came back into play, Love and romance were again an option. Despite this newfound hope, she was aware of the outward existences, in particular her Grandma. Tension grew more as Janie considered running away with Joe. He appeared to be what she always...