In the novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, the character Janie goes through multiple relationships throughout her life in which she experiences struggles to free herself from the power and controls of others. Even though love can lead to stability, it doesn’t always give power.
The character Janie is raised by her nanny, who teaches her as much as she can about how important wealth is. Although Janie’s nanny implied her with those standards, Janie doesn’t seem to care. For example in the beginning of the novel, Janie kisses Jonny Taylor, a farmworker because she starts to feel sexual desire. As that occurred, her nanny witnessed it and demanded Janie marry a man that would offer her financial security. Her nanny was a woman that went through slavery and was used to being controlled. Because the nanny was raped she wanted Janie to marry someone the nanny approved of. In her first marriage for example, Janie leaves ...view middle of the document...
Janie was also a very good looking woman with long luscious hair which many men admired. However, her husband made her tie all that hair up in a rag considering other men were cherishing her beautiful hair. As a result of that she began to feel like he was controlling her life. She had love, economic stability, but again no power.
She finally put a stop to it, he passed away and she wasn’t feeling sad, she was finally free.’’Tain’t dat Ah worries over Joe’s death, Pheoby .Ah jus’ loves dis freedom.”(p93) She wasn’t grieving over his death, neither did she care what people thought. He had so much power over her, not only verbal power, but social power. For example Joe was always accusing Janie of being someone who doesn’t know how to do anything right, she was affected by this because it made her feel useless and she couldn’t say anything in return to defend herself. Because her husband Joe was a mayor he had authority and expected to be respected by everyone, no exceptions.
Her last relationship finally gave her all that she was looking for in a man. A young man named Tea Cake gave her the privilege to go to “de horizon and back.”(p191). He gave her the power to speak to other people, to enjoy the world as it was, and most importantly to speak up her mind. Janie always had to worry about what society thought of her, but with Tea Cake it was different. They both had an immense love for each other, and although she didn’t have economic stability, she had power. In her other relationships she had love that lead to stability, but she did not power.
The author uses this struggle of power to show the circumstances and differences of personalities that occur throughout the novel. Janie had to struggle all her life to be able to free herself from the controls of other until she finally met Tea Cake. The relationship that Tea Cake and Janie possessed proved Nanny wrong. They proved that stability doesn’t always give you power. All her previous relationships were stable in the sense of wealth but Janie had no control or command. Her relationship with Joe might have not been the most financially stable but she was finally free, in love, and with a voice.