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Robert James 6th period

Their Eyes Were Watching God


In the book Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, the main character who is the narrator of this story is the unique Janie. Janie is an infamous woman due to the harsh judgments of those around her in Eatonville Florida. The notions that they have made about her are all created by the jealous black women. Janie had the long hair and beautiful features of a white woman that made her stick out like a sore thumb, this is why she receives nothing but negative feedback from the other black women. As Janie talks about her story that is engulfed by her endeavor for love, two themes can be seen within the text, gender roles and speech versus silence. Janie is wanting to fall in love, so she ends up marrying three different men and learns a thing or two about gender roles. Janie! Logan called harshly. Come help me move dis manure pile befo de sun gits hot. You dont take a bit of interest in dis place. Taint no use in foolin round in dat kitchen all day long (Hurston 31). Janie has been brought up by a white family so she learned more of the ways of a more proper life style, and that meant that the woman is to take care of the house, not to patronize the land. She stayed in her designated area

and left Logan in his. As an argument is brewing in the distance, Logan makes an attempt to antagonize Janie to see if shell try and prove that she is more than just a little priss. Janie sticks to her roots though and remains as the woman of the house and allows Logan to be the man of his land. After Logans plan to enforce a new living style on Janie blew up in his face, she left him for Joe who provides her with the theme speech versus silence. Joe is a deeply pretentious person and takes control over any possible aspect of Janies life that he can. Times and scenes like that put Janie to thinking about the inside state of her marriage. Time came when she fought back with her tongue as best as she could, but it didnt do her any good. It just made Joe do more. He wanted her submission and hed keep on fighting until he felt he had it (Hurston 71). Joe made sure he got what he desired out of Janie, he made her put up her lavish hair, made her tend to the store instead of playing checkers with the men outside on the porch, and speaks for her instead of letting her say her own opinions. No matter what Jody did, she said nothing. She had learned how to talk some and leave some. She was a rut in the road (Hurston 76). The life that Joe (a.k.a. Jody) has forced upon Janie has now become routine and she basically taught herself that silence is key in this dysfunctional marriage. As time moves on though, her anger continues to build up inside her which leads her to become a catharsis

person. Taint no use in gettin all mad, Janie, cause Ah mention you aint no young gal no mo. Nobody in heah aint lookin for no wife outa yuh. Old as you is. Naw, Ah aint no young gal no mo but den Ah aint no old woman neither. Ah reckon Ah looks mah age too. But Ahm uh woman every inch of me, and Ah know it. Dats uh whole lot moren you kin say. You big-bellies round here and put out a lot of brag, but taint nothin to it but yo big voice. Humph! Talkin bout me lookin old! When you pull down yo britches, you look lak de change uh life (Hurston 79). Janie stood up to Joe after dealing with his problems for so many years. Not only did she hit him hard, she did it in front of all of Joes friends. This of course led to her being struck by Joe but she let him know that she is no longer in his control because she is a strong independent woman who will do as she pleases and there is no man who is going to stop her, even if he is the mayor of the town. Janie is in a constant struggle in finding her love and she refuses to be complacent with her relationship if it is not to her own specifications. In her story gender roles and speech versus silence are predominantly amplified more and more to the final moment where she finds what she wants in her life. After her battles with theses two themes she has an epiphany and realizes that she has control over her own life and will do what she sees fit.

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