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Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

1290 words - 5 pages

Zora Hurston was an African American proto-feminist author who lived during a time when both African Americans and women were not treated equally. Hurston channeled her thirst for women’s dependence from men into her book Their Eyes Were Watching God. One of the many underlying themes in her book is feminism. Zora Hurston, the author of the book, uses Janie to represent aspects of feminism in her book as well as each relationship Janie had to represent her moving closer towards her independence.
Janie’s first relationship was with Logan Killicks. She married him only because she wanted to appease her grandmother. Logan did not truly love Janie, but saw her as an asset to increase his own power. Logan expressed this through several actions. He first tries to use her to "increase his profits" rather than treating her as a wife when he travels to Lake City to buy a second mule so Janie can use it to plow in the potato field because potatoes were "bringin' big prices”. When Janie later refused to work at his command, stating that it was not her place to do so, Logan told her, "You ain't got no particular place. It's wherever Ah need yuh". After Logan told her this, Janie decided she had to either escape or face becoming her husband's mule for life. Janie stood up to her husband. This is a feminist action because Janie is willing to leave a husband who makes her unhappy, which was rare act of independence and defiance for women living in the 1930’s. To free herself from her marriage with Logan Killicks, she only needed to invalidate the elements of his symbolic vision. She recognized that for Killicks marriage was primarily a financial arrangement, and his sixty acres acted both as a sign and guarantee of matrimonial unity. Instead of becoming her husband’s work mule, Janie decided to leave with Logan, whom she believed would give her more freedom and treat her with kindness and love, rather than use her as a source for more money.
Janie escaped from her husband Logan Killick for Joe Starks, with the hopes of becoming more of a wife than a source of work and (therefore) money. Joe stripped Janie of her identity. He made Janie tie up her hair, did not allow her to talk or socialize with others he considered to be below her, and both physically and mentally abused her. Joe thought Janie had one specific role: the mayor’s wife, and her punished her whenever he felt she stepped outside of the lines he had so carefully drawn for her. When the people asked for Janie to speak at a social gathering, Joe responded by saying, “Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife don’t know nothin’ ’bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh woman and her place is in de home” (Hurston 43). Once Janie finally stood up to Joe, Hurston killed him off. His death represented Janie’s new found freedom. Once Joe was dead, Janie didn’t have to abide by Joe’s rules anymore. She was free from Joe’s control. Janie’s...

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