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Janie's Voice In "Their Eyes Were Watching God" By Zora Neale Hurston

1587 words - 6 pages

In the 19th century and early 20th century woman were silenced and didn't have a voice. In "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston, the central character Janie Crawford was not exempt from the lack of rights for women. Hurston portrays Janie with the same suppression similar to the women in that era. Women were to be seen (looking beautiful) and not heard. The majority of the novel Janie is silenced and subjected to, first, Logan Killicks, then to Joe Starks. During her time of being silenced she is trying to find her voice and eventually finds herself in the process. Even though Janie was verbally silent through most of the novel, she usually said more through her actions. Her presence alone show she should be respected. Therefore, Janie should be valued as a whole not just as someone whose voice has been mired because of the biasness of society. Janie didn't have to speak verbally to be heard. The actions that Janie takes are adequate enough.Hurston is phenomenal at creating intensity to the voices of those who are silent and lack their own voice. I found it interesting that as the men in the novel voices develop they become almost corresponding to the development of Janie's. Because of Janie's relationship with the male figures in this novel her own voice strengthens. An example of this is when Janie was considering leaving Killicks for Joe Starks; she began questioning Killicks about regarding the idea of her running off. Another example is when Joe Starks is dying she was finally able stand up to him after nearly thirty years of suppression.Passion and control correspond to voice and silence, as expressed by the three relationships in Janie's life. Hurston brings together the men and women in her novel, comparing Janie's personal growth to the three significant men in her life ( Logan, Starks, Tea Cake, which all three were her husband.) In Janie's life her first two marriages represent control; the last marriage to Tea Cake represents passion. Janie's first marriage to Logan is not for love, it is for security. Furthermore, Logan due to his emotional inadequacy and lack of self expression hinders his voice by not expressing his hurt or disappointment to Janie. This becomes a turning point for Janie and a chance for her self expression to surface, exposing her silenced voice. Janie's first step in showing that she is not one to be counted out....not just yet. Through the narrative the reader comes to understand Logan's emotions and fears. Unfortunately, Janie never hears his voice; it may be that Janie leaves Logan for Joe Starks just because of this flaw in his character. Janie's inability to express her self also contributes to her leaving Logan and running off with Starks.Starks, with his energy and enthusiasm "rescues" Janie from the "mule and plow." But it is then that Janie blindly gives up her physical freedom for an emotional prison, which Starks puts upon her .Unfortunately Stark, is interested in property, prestige,...

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