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The Journey Of Self Identification Essay

1443 words - 6 pages

According to behavioral psychologists, at birth children begin to identify themselves through parental figures of the same sex, “especially to those the child depends on for love and care.” The process typically encourages children to imitate their parental figures, and therefore limits the growth of identification through one’s self. In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, the character Janie is used to show the journey of self-identification. Janie struggles throughout the majority of the novel to define herself naturally, which requires her to dismiss the judgments of others. However, as behavioral psychologist suggest, it is difficult to naturally identify ...view middle of the document...

Rather than seeking a self-identification, Logan is defined by the land that he holds. In addition, Logan places Janie into a category for her that matches his vision of what a wife should be. This only allows her to define herself through Logan’s eyes rather than her own. Logan even tells Janie that her place is not separate from his own because she “ain’t got no particular place. It’s wherever Ah [Logan] need yuh [Janie].” When Janie finally is through with the limiting relationship she runs off to a new man, Joe, who already awaits her.
As previously, through her new connection Janie is able to broader her horizon, but simultaneously becomes part of another male defined relationship. Her new husband, Jodie, limits her from being able to speak or converse with other townsfolk in Eatonville. This is due to the fact that Janie appears physically to be from a higher class since her hair and features are not purely African American, but mixed with white features that make her hair straight, which leads Jodie to instruct her to tie her hair up. If she were to converse with the common people of the town then she would destroy the notion that she reigns above them on the social hierarchy, which would ultimately destroy Jodie’s power as well. Therefore, she cannot be herself, and is once again limited by male definitions. These male definitions place Janie in an observatory rather than participating position, which is where she aims to be. Furthermore, Jodie clearly does not reach an understanding of self-identification because his rule relies on Janie’s position in society. Therefore Jodie fits the passive male stereotype first identified, and repeated after, the first paragraph.
Jodie’s death results after Janie confronts him about his oppressive powers, and represents how she has reclaimed some bit of her self and come closer to self-identification. After Jodie’s death, Janie recollected on her younger years while looking in a mirror, “the young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place.” Janie proceeds to let her hair down, representing that she no longer defines herself through what Jodie’s vision of her had been. However, immediately after caring for her hair she ties it up once again, “forming it into just what people wanted to see.” In spite of her even further expanding horizons and reality, Janie maintains her position in society since she is not yet capable of facing the judgment of the whole town.
After Jodie’s death is the first point in the novel at which Janie does not have to fit into another man’s vision for her. Previously none of her relationships had been successful because they did not please Janie, and she could not participate actively in the community as she wished to. Janie’s self-identification has not been fulfilled because the men’s dreams she is with do not reflect her own dreams, nor the methods of going about fulfilling said dreams. The second paragraph of the novel says, “The dream is the truth.” ...

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