Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, follows the struggle of an over protected, naive young women who discovers the meaning of like in her journey to find a man who is committed to a true marriage. As an intellectual African-American women, Janie Crawford reveals the confrontations of being beautiful and young in the midst of a patriarchal culture that wishes to prevent her from expressing her true emotions. Hurston utilizes the southern black dialect, along with imagery and many metaphors to proved a more realistic image of the culture surrounding Eatonville, Florida. Through three marriages, Janie finally discovers a personal satisfaction with her life.
Being a sheltered child, Janie begins escaping to the natural world under the beautiful pear tree, where she watches God’s work. Carefully watching a bee sink into a flower, Janie realizes, “So this was a marriage” (11). This natural process of giving and taking provides Janie with the aspiration of one day obtaining a partner that, such as the bee during pollination, will maintain a beneficial relationship for both.
While Nanny continues to try her hardest in providing a promising life for her granddaughter, Logan Killicks cannot offer Janie the emotional contentment she desires. Unsure of how to find true love and happiness, Janie tries to live the life Nanny provided in hope of achieving her own voice. As Janie reaches another stage of maturity however, she realizes that love cannot follow a marriage and soon begins dreaming once more of how to obtain an authentic, stable and loving relationship.
As the long, meaningless days with Logan continue, Janie becomes acquainted with a man whom she feels can offer much more value and significance to a relationship, Joe Starks, Joe reveals an emotional appeal similar to Janie’s and can easily relate to her feelings. However, Janie fails to realize Joe’s intentions of courting a woman that is married to another man. This foreshadows the idea that Joe is a man who is determined to obtain his desires, even if others must pay the sacrifice. Joe’s motives soon begin to expose themselves as he gains the powerful position of mayor and believes that Janie should live up to the ideal wife. Because Janie has been put onto this pedestal, she feels overwhelmed in trying to live the correct way in which a mayor’s wife would behave. After twenty years of marriage, Joe passes from a fatal illness. Janie mourns but is also somewhat gratified at the newly found freedom that she now possesses.
Feeling that fate, and now her age, is keeping her away from becoming a part of what she believes to be a true marriage; Janie begins to lose hope for fulfilling her desire to be like the bee and flower in nature. Tea Cake(Vergible Woods), although much younger, believes in many of the same morals as Janie and soon wins her over. Being skeptic about another man entering her life, Janie proceeds with caution, hoping that Tea Cake will be the ship on her horizon. Unlike the normal patriarchal man of her time, Tea Cake allows Janie to express herself in her own way, teaching and learning more about life as they spend time together. By taking her fishing, hunting, and on picnics out in the fields, the feeling of true friendship and affection begin to overwhelm Janie as she experiences the nature of love.
Every person has his or her own unique horizon. Some reach their horizon and some never experience the full satisfaction with being at peace with oneself. As Janie stumbles into the caring arms of Tea Cake, she finds that certain satisfaction. Upon her return to Eatonville, she remarks to Phoebe, “Two things everybody’s got tuh to fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves(192). After so many years, Janie finds what she is meant to love for, to love. When she is returning from the everglades on the horizon, her mind is full with memories and satisfaction of her journey to find her own way of life
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