The Characters in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston Essay
I felt a connection to Janie and I wanted to see how her life panned out. When I reached the final few pages, I was actually sad it was over (which shocked me because I was so bored in the beginning).This book originally grabbed my attention because it was narrated by a strong female character. Janie is a fair-skinned African American woman who grew up in poverty with her traditional grandmother, Nanny. Stuck in the time before “equality” existed, Nanny wanted Janie to live a life of leisure, something she was unable to have. She married Janie off to Logan Killicks at a very young age. Janie then left Logan to venture to a new town with Joe Starks who offered her a grandiose and comfortable life, where she didn’t have to work and he could show her off. In a naive way, she believed that Joe loved her and wanted nothing but the best for her, however as he became more obsessed with his store and his town, she became more oppressed by his harsh words and head kerchiefs he forced her to wear. As Janie moves onto her third marriage to Tea Cake, she finally finds the relationship she is looking for. She knew “he could be a bee to a blossom--- a pear tree blossom in the spring.” This was something she dreamed of, having a relationship wear she could lay under a pear tree and simply be in love.
This book sends a powerful message about the importance of an equal relationship. Janie is oppressed by Logan and Joe, leaving her sad and lonely. When Tea Cake comes along and takes her to picnics, hunting or fishing, and teaches her to drive she realizes what she has been missing for years. He even chopped down a tree she didn’t like, along with “all those signs of possession” in Joe Stark’s house. Despite the strong relationship they have, Tea Cake still has control over Janie. He takes her money and goes off spending it without her permission, but she can’t say anything about it. This made me very angry. He also whips her when she talks to another man, though nothing was going on between them. He believes that “being able to whip her reassured him in possession.” She doesn’t let these things affect her because she loves Tea Cake and believes God is working in her life. When she comes to terms with this, she finally finds peace. At the end of the novel, when she is completely free of all relationships and ties to people, Janie is truly a happy woman. She is described pulling in “her horizon like a great fish-net” and “calling in her soul to come and see” the life in its meshes. At this moment her life is fulfilled.This book hit all emotions. I was sad and felt empathy for Janie, I was happy, and I was angry beyond belief. Sometimes I laughed, while other times I wanted to tell one of the characters off. This story that Hurston created is so relatable that I felt aspects of Janie’s life in my own, even without the many years of experience she had. I truly believe that I could go back and read this book in a couple of years and learn a whole slew of new lessons.