How do the men and marriages differ from one another? What does Janie learn from each experience?
Through the juxtaposition of Eatonville to the Everglades Zora Neale Hurston depicts the self-discovery of a woman, attained only by embarking on through empiricism.
In the novel Eatonville serves as a symbol of the oppression that Janie endured throughout the majority of her life. When the narration commences, prior to the introduction of Eatonville, Janie she is sixteen-years-old and living with her grandmother, Nanny.
Nanny is characterized as strong-willed and overbearing. Because of her experiences, Nanny desires to protect Janie from all struggles in life; Nanny believes that by marrying Logan Killicks, Janie will be able to avoid the obstacles that her grandmother endured.
Because she recognizes that Logan will never be able to fulfill her ideal of marriage, Janie eagerly absconds to Eatonville with Joe Starks. By doing this, Janie represses her strength and sexuality. As time passes, Janie realizes that she will not become the person that she dreamed of becoming while remaining in Eatonville.
Because Eatonville represented oppression to her, Janie escapes to discover herself. However, Janie becomes infatuated with the atmosphere, and decides to permanently settle with her new husband. Unlike her affluent lifestyle with Joe Starks in Eatonville, Janie lives among the lower class of the Everglades.
In spite of this, Janie truly enjoys her new environment.
Instead of garish dresses, Janie wears overalls, and she allows her hair to flow untamed in the wind. Moreover, Janie no longer experiences the same constraints that plagued her life in Eatonville; this can be attributed to the treatment that Janie receives from Tea Cake.
While in the Everglades, it seems as though Janie is finally content with her life and the person that she has become; however, tragedy strikes, and interrupts the fantasy. After a hurricane decimates the community and Tea Cake dies, Janie no longer holds the Everglades in the same esteem.
Despite the misfortune that is brought about following the hurricane, the event allows Janie to determine who she is, when her fulfillment is not dependent upon another person. The employment of two contrasting locations Eatonville and the Everglades illuminates the desire of women to be liberated from the constrictions of society and orthodox gender roles.
Moreover, Hurston refutes the trite belief that women are obligated to repress their aspirations and sexuality. Their Eyes Were Watching God serves as a testament to the ability of women to achieve life experience, fulfillment, and happiness; although the novel also asserts that such concepts may not be realized concurrently.
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These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Their Eyes Were Watching God.