CRITICAL ESSAY THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD Essay

This essay has a total of 1324 words and 5 pages.


CRITICAL ESSAY THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD




CRITICAL ESSAY: THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD

It all begins with parents. However, although genetics play a key role in what kind
of person one becomes, environment is the other major factor that influences a person’s
development. The people a person meets and the experiences one has are very important
elements affecting development. With the three marriages Janie has, she develops as a
woman. In each marriage she learns valuable lessons, leading to progressively better
relationships, realizing how a person is to live his/her life. In Their Eyes Were Watching
God, by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie’s three marriages lead her to self-knowledge and thus
to fulfillment.
Janie’s marriage to Login Killicks provides her with the realization that marriages
do not necessarily guarantee mutual love. Her pre-marital concept of love and marriage is
symbolized in the natural union of bee and flower:


She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the
visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible
voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom;
the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the
tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So
this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. (p.11)


In this dream, Janie conveys her idea of marriage being the culmination of love, of two
separate entities becoming one and growing together. To the rest of society, as
represented by Login Killicks and her grandmother, marriage is not about love, but is
rather a business deal that only includes protection and procreation. Her grandmother
says, “’Tain’t Logan Killicks Ah wants you to have, baby, it’s protection.”(p.15) These
beliefs run contrary to everything that Janie has wished and hoped a marriage to be: “Ah
wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think.”(p.24),
a marriage that is filled with an equal and physical love. When she questions her
grandmother, Nanny continually indoctrinates her with views of marriage she does not
accept. She finally relents and marries Login Killicks. As her marriage unfolds, Janie
begins to question herself and why she had yielded to views that she never believed in.
“Did marriage end the cosmic loneliness of the unmated? Did marriage compel like the sun
the day?” (p.21). Eventually, she comes to the realization that, “marriage did not make
love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.”(p.25)
In her marriage to Joe Starks, Janie soon learns that her new womanhood serves
only to reflect his position and wealth. From the beginning of their relationship, signs
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