Their Eyes Were Watching God An Analysis
So many people in modern society have lost their voices. Laryngitis is not the cause of this sad situation-- they silence themselves, and have been doing so for decades. For many, not having a voice is acceptable socially and internally, because it frees them from the responsibility of having to maintain opinions. For Janie Crawford, it was not: she finds her voice among those lost within the pages of Zora Neale Hurston’s famed novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. This dynamic character’s natural intelligence, talent for speaking, and uncommon insights made her the perfect candidate to develop into the outspoken, individual woman she has wanted to be all along.
As the novel begins, Janie walks into her former hometown quietly and bravely. She is not the same woman who left; she is not afraid of judgment or envy. Full of “self-revelation”, she begins telling her tale to her best friend, Phoeby, by looking back at her former self with the kind of wistfulness everyone expresses when they remember a time of childlike naïveté. She tries to express her wonderment and innocence by describing a blossoming peach tree that she loved, and in doing so also reveals her blossoming sexuality. To deter Janie from any trouble she might find herself in, she was made to marry an older man named Logan Killicks at the age of 16. In her naïveté, she expected to feel love eventually for this man. Instead, however, his love for her fades and she becomes a mule to carry his burdens. This causes one major personality change in Janie-- she accepts Logan Killicks as her husband and the pack mule as her role in life, yet keeps her knowledge of the world near to it for comfort. Hurston says it best:
She knew things that nobody had ever told her... She knew the world was a stallion rolling in the blue pasture of ether. She knew that God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up... She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman (24).
Janie remains relatively demure in her relationship with Killicks until Jody Starks appears. A wealthy, well-dressed man on his way to a small black town he heard about, a little of Janie’s previous naïveté emerges again because of him. She mistakes his spending and kindness for the love she had been seeking, but eventually realizes that he loves her as a reflection of his wealth. Of Janie’s three husbands, he is the one with the most negative effect on her. He defines all the boundaries of her life and expects her to submit to everything he commands. When she defies him and insults...