Speaking, Seeking and Straying: Janie's Journey
Analyzing "Their Eyes Were Watching God" Through a Feminist Lens
By Cassi Hayes, Ronia Hurwitz, and AIshwarya Shah
Niven III 5 (A Block)
Brief Overview of Feminist Lens in Their Eyes Were Watching God
When Janie is introduced in Their Eyes Were Watching God, she is an innocent young girl who is beginning to awaken as a woman, with no one to look to for values and advice except her Nanny. Throughout Janie's adolescence, Nanny instills traditional notions in Janie, such as the idea that marriage is a form of security, not a matter of love, and that she must strive to be above everyone else and have material things.
When Janie leaves Nanny's house and moves in with Logan, her first husband, she starts to realize that she is not happy filling her expected role. When Jody Sparks comes along and offers her more freedom, Janie takes one of her first steps towards reaching her horizons. With high hopes, she marries her second husband. During their 20-year marriage, he tries to suppress her with his theories of how women should act. During this time, Janie tries to find her own voice but struggles, as Jody seems to be stopping her at every turn. With Jody's death comes much needed freedom, and Janie comes into her own. When she marries Tea Cake, a free spirit like herself, she is able to truly be who she is-- a natural, happy woman. As they journey through the "muck," Janie finds true happiness. With Tea Cake, the "Son of the Evening Sun" she is able to "go to the horizon and back."
Over the course of her three marriages, Janie slowly learns how to stand up for herself and maintain her beliefs and is finally able to become the natural woman she was always meant to be. She finds her voice and gradually breaks out of the traditional role for a woman in southern society.