Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie Character Analysis Essay Essay on Literature, Their eyes were watching god (2023)

In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Hursten the main character, Janie, has trouble finding her true love. Though Janie marries two different husbands whose character are completely divergent, she has yet to find someone who makes her happy even though she doesn’t know the true meaning of love. Janie’s grandma wanted Janie to get married for her protection before she dies because she wouldn’t be able to take care of Janie for long. So Granny planned Janie to marry Logan Killicks, even though Janie disagreed because she didn’t understand the meaning of love.

Janie thought that after she marries Logan, she would soon fall in love with him. Yet, Janie still doesn’t love Logan. One day Janie had a girl talk with Granny about Logan. She mentions that she doesn’t like the way he looks. For instance, “his belly is too big, and his toenails look like mule foots. ” (Ch. 3 P. 24) This shows that Janie favors looks more than protection. A year later, Janie’s relationship with Logan was soon gone because “Janie noticed that her husband has stopped talking in rhymes to her. He had ceased to wonder at her long black hair and finger it. Ch. 4 pp. 1)

One day Logan left to go purchase a mule while Janie stayed at home. As she was relaxing in the barn she heard “whistling coming down the road. ” (Ch. 4 P. 27) It was a man who was dressed fancy that didn’t belong in the parts where Janie lived. The man was so focused on where he was going, Janie wanted to catch his attention by, jerking the pump handle hard while she pumped so it’ll make a loud noise. The man “looked hard and the asked her for a cool drink of water. ” This shows that Janie knew this man was rich and wanted to “talk” to him.

The fancy man was amed Joe Starks, who once worked for the white people to save up money to come down to Florida, and to live in the new town that was being built for colored people. Soon after they met, Joe and Janie talked day after day about how Joe would rule the town after it’s built. All the talk about Joe’s dreams made Janie’s memory of her grandma strong and powerful. Joe wanted to make Janie his wife and not a dog, like Logan is executing. One night when Janie and Logan was sleeping, Janie woke Logan to ask about their relationship. She asked Logan what would happen if she had ran away and left him.

Logan feared for the worst , so he tried to brush the idea out of his mind by telling her he was getting sleepy. But Janie was persistent in telling Logan the truth about her feelings in leaving him for a better man who supposedly would treat her right. The next morning Janie was preparing breakfast when Logan called her to help move the manure pile before it got hot. Obviously Janie turned down the offer, because she felt that her place belonged in the kitchen and his was outside working. After their bickering, Janie finished cooking breakfast and decided to leave Logan for good.

(Video) Their Eyes Were Watching God: Crash Course Literature 301

Even if Joe was not there waiting for her down the road, the change was bound to do her good. ” (Ch. 4 P. 32) After her abandonment from the Killicks household, Janie was now renamed Janie Starks. Their wedding was completely different from her first marriage. This time she wore silk and wool and “from now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything. ” Comparing her first wedding to her second, on the day she got married to Logan “nobody put anything on the seat of Logan’s wagon to make it ride glorious on the way to his house. It was a lonesome place like a stump in the middle of the woods. (Ch. 3 pp. 3)

On the other hand when Janie marries Joe, “they sat on the boarding house porch and saw the sun plunge into the same crack in the earth from which the night emerged. “(Ch. 4 P. 33) Her second marriage seems better than the first because of how the wedding turned out, but there is always a turning point in one’s life. The day after she married Joe, he “didn’t make many speeches with rhymes to her,” but he brought her the best things the vendor had. (Ch. 5 pp. 1) As they entered the colored own, “they locked arms and strolled from end to end of the town” like a romantic couple.

Janie was more interested in the looks of Joe, and how he had a lot of money and the way he dressed. After Joe becomes the mayor of the town, Janie will soon realize that love at first sight isn’t always true. Joe was more concerned about the town, than he was with Janie and her feelings. He thought that since she was Mrs. Mayor of the town it would make her a big woman, even though coldness and fear took hold of her”. (Ch. 5 P. 46) As the town was ie’s “feeling of etting set up, Joe had two buildings built; a store and a post office, which he made Janie work in both of them.

This is where Joe’s true nature of his character showed. During her hours of working, Joe made Janie wear a rag over her head because of his jealousy toward her hair, yet he never told her the reason why. There were times Janie had to think “about the inside state of her marriage. ” (Ch6. P. 71) “The spirit of the marriage left the bedroom and took to living in the parlor. It was there to shake hands whenever company came to visit, but never went back inside the bedroom again. “(Ch. P. 71) Janie’s marriage in her eyes has completely vanish, “the bed was no longer a daisy-field for her and Joe to play in.

It was a place where she went and laid down when she was sleepy and tired,” (Ch. 6 . P71) After this point, it would of been smart for Janie to leave Joe, but she doesn’t. So one day Joe decided to strike at Janie because she didn’t cook the dinner correctly. Shocked and hurt, Janie soon realized that the man she so loved was no longer a “figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. ” (Ch. 6 P. 72) After the incident, Janie’s feelings oward Joe changed as she “packed her emotions in her heart where he could never find them” and continued on with her life. Ch. 6 P. 72) Janie’s ideal marriage was to be taken care of and be loved that’ll make her happy. Both husbands seem unsuitable for Janie, but one leans more toward her preference, which is Joe Starks. Though Joe is controlling and abusive, he also treated Janie better than what Logan did because he has money. Janie liked the way Joe acted towards her in the beginning of their relationship, because Joe bought her valuable things and treated her with respect in making her a “big oman”. With Logan Killicks, he treated Janie like any other person.

(Video) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston | Themes

He felt that since she was married to him and lived with him, that she would do work inside and outside the house. This is a part of Janie that she wasn’t familiar with since she lived with her grandma who took care of her. Also, Janie wasn’t very fond of Logan’s looks. The life lesson is you could find your true love if actually know the person well, and not just marry them for their looks or wealth. Even if that person doesn’t have everything and only has a little, you shouldn’t judge them based on that.

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How is Janie characterized in Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

Personality… independent, tough, and cautiously romantic. A life of disappointed romances has made Janie cautious when it comes to love and marriage, but she still has a hint of the romantic 16-year-old she once was.

What Does Their Eyes Were Watching God mean when does Janie say it and why? ›

Hurston writes that they waited to see how nature would determine their fate: “They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.” With this line, the characters recognize the lack of control they have over their own lives, and realize they can only be spared from the cruelty of nature if God sees ...

What was the most important lesson that Janie learned throughout her story? ›

In her journey through life, Janie has learned two important lessons: People must "go tuh God," and they must "find out about livin' fuh theyselves." Finally, Janie realizes that as long as she lives, the memory of Tea Cake will live within her heart.

How does Janie develop as a character? ›

Janie's development along the way can be charted by studying her use of language and her relationship to her own voice. At the end of her journey, Janie returns to Eatonville a strong and proud woman, but at the beginning of her story, she is unsure of who she is or how she wants to live.

How would you describe Janie? ›

The protagonist of the novel. Janie defies categorization: she is black but flaunts her Caucasian-like straight hair, which comes from her mixed ancestry; she is a woman but defies gender stereotypes by insisting on her independence and wearing overalls.

What is the main point of Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

Their Eyes Were Watching God illustrates how no human pursuits—for love, money, or self-worth—can stand against God or the forces of nature.

What is the meaning of the first two paragraphs of Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

These are the first paragraphs of Their Eyes Were Watching God. In these opening lines, Hurston introduces a crucial idea that is carried throughout the novel: the metaphor of “ships at a distance” describes how reality is shaped differently for men and women.

How many relationships did Janie have in Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

Throughout the book “Their Eyes Were Watching God” the main character, Janie goes through three major relationships.

What does Janie's hair symbolize? ›

Janie's long and flowing hair is also a symbol, representing power and defiance. In the novel, women of Janie's age did not wear their hair down since it was considered improper. While married to Tea Cake, Janie was able to live like a girl again. Janie defied the norm and let her beautiful hair flow.

What does Janie realize about herself? ›

Once Janie is on her own, she begins a journey of self-discovery in which she learns that while others told her she should want a husband and security in her life, what she truly wants is freedom and love.

What lesson does Janie learn about marriage? ›

In this chapter, Janie comes to a powerful realization about love and marriage. She now understands that "marriage did not make love." At this point, Janie's dream of love and happiness dies, causing her to leave the naïve young girl that she was when she married Logan and to become a woman.

What motivates Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

One of Janie's motivations is to experience the world in her own way, through her own eyes. She begins a quest for self-definition, love and freedom. One of the most compelling things about this character is her independence and her awareness of a life that she wants to change.

How does Janie's character grow and change throughout the novel? ›

She gains strength from the protective love of Nanny and Logan as well as the possessive love of Joe. Janie finds her desired love with Tea Cake. Throughout her life, she also gains an independence and strength from these relationships as well as by enduring the judgments made by others.

Is Janie main character? ›

The novel's heroine, Janie is both the narrator and protagonist of her story.

Is Janie a strong female character? ›

She signifies a strong-willed and free woman; she shows a feminist. Janie reveals herself. In the novel, Their Eyes were Watching God, Hurston uncovers what type of woman Janie truly is, in which Hurston also reflects the advocacy of feminism.

Who was Janie jealous of? ›

After a while in the muck, Janie begins to grow jealous of Nunkie, a chunky girl who flirts with Tea Cake in the fields. As the season goes on, Nunkie grows bolder and bolder and is always falling over Tea Cake and playfully touching him.

What made Janie jealous? ›

Janie becomes extremely jealous after she finds Nunkie flirting with Tea Cake in the fields. Although Janie feared that Tea Cake would leave her earlier when he disappeared with her $200, this time her fear is channeled into jealousy.

How does Janie view her life? ›

For the first time in the novel, Hurston compares Janie's life to a tree with the simile, "Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done, and undone." The image of the tree continues as Janie becomes infatuated with a blossoming pear tree in Nanny's backyard.

What are life lessons from Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

In Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, the protagonist Janie learns and grows from each of her relationships. Her life lessons are woven into the themes of love and 'mislove,' power and domination, and inequality and discrimination throughout the novel.

What is the significance of the ending of Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

Essays What Does the Ending Mean? Their Eyes Were Watching God concludes with Janie's self-actualization and hope for her own future. Janie finishes recounting her story to Pheoby—just as she promised she would do in the beginning—before settling into her bedroom and reflecting on Tea Cake's death.

What does Their Eyes Were Watching God say about society? ›

Social class is often closely tied to one's material wealth. However, Their Eyes Were Watching God seems to draw an inverse relationship between one's social class and one's morality. The poorer working classes are often depicted as more honest and decent than the wealthier middle and upper classes.

What is the message about love in Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston approaches romantic love as a symbiotic element of nature and longing that, when finally realized, is too pure to exist for very long on an impure earth.

What is Their Eyes Were Watching God about short summary? ›

The epic tale of Janie Crawford, whose quest for identity takes her on a journey during which she learns what love is, experiences life's joys and sorrows, and come home to herself in peace.

What is the main idea of Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 1? ›

Their Eyes Were Watching God opens with a focus on judgment, a powerful and prevalent theme in the novel. As Janie returns to Eatonville after a lengthy absence, the porch sitters treat her especially harshly when talking about her.

Did Janie Find True love in Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

It is with Tea Cake that Janie discovers true love. Janie's marriage to Tea Cake makes her feel like she has been given a second chance in life to live her youth; she feels reborn.

Who is Janie's final relationship with? ›

Tea Cake (Vergible Woods) – Tea Cake is Janie's third and final husband and the only husband she actually loved. Tea Cake is younger than Janie and owns no property and money. He is also a gambler and a partier, but he truly loves and respects Janie for who she is.

Who beat Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

Mrs. Turner brings her brother to town, and Tea Cake, feeling threatened, beats Janie to show that he still controls her.

What does Janie killing Tea Cake symbolize? ›

The moment of Tea Cake's death, though horrible for Janie to endure, reflects how much she has grown as a person and how secure she has become. Although Tea Cake means everything to her, she is able to kill him to save herself.

Why did Janie hide her hair? ›

He makes Janie hide her hair under headrags while she works in the store because he is afraid that some other man might touch it or admire it. By now, Janie knows that she has no power to dispute Joe, and so she complies.

What does Janie's black hair symbolize? ›

Janie's hair is a symbol of her power and unconventional identity; it represents her strength and individuality in three ways. First, it represents her independence and defiance of petty community standards.

What does Janie want most? ›

Within the outwardly attractive woman called Janie Starks is a simple inner woman called Janie, and all she wants is to love and to be loved.

What does Janie want for herself? ›

Independence. That is what she really wants for herself. She did not have freedom with Logan, for she was forced to marry him against her will. She was restrained from speaking in public by Joe, even when she did not desire to say anything at all.

What does Janie fear most? ›

Although Janie is madly in love with Tea Cake, her greatest fear is that he will leave her for another woman. When Tea Cake disappears with Janie's money, her fear becomes evident as she remembers Mrs. Annie Tyler and her experience with a much younger man.

Did Tea Cake hit Janie? ›

In chapter 17, Tea Cake beats Janie so that he can show Mrs. Turner who is boss, then he stages a fight that destroys her restaurant so that she will leave town.

How does Janie change after Joe's death? ›

Janie realizes that Joe's death frees her from the years of repression she experienced as his wife. Janie's strength shows through when she does not allow what others in the community think about how she should mourn dictate her actions.

What does Janie struggle with in Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie is a young woman who struggles to find her identity. Janie Separates her exterior life from her interior life by keeping certain thoughts and emotions inside her head, and she reconciles this by while presenting the proper woman society expects her to be.

What happens to Janie in the end? ›

In the end, Janie is forced to shoot her husband to protect herself—rabies is not pretty. Though she's put on trial for murder, she's pronounced innocent. After Tea Cake's funeral, Janie returns home to Eatonville. There, she meets up with her old friend, Pheoby Watson, and tells her the whole story.

How does Janie change when her first dream dies? ›

Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman. When Janie was younger, her Nanny implied that with marriage, love would follow automatically. With this belief in mind, Janie agrees to marry Logan Killicks, a man she does not love.

How does Janie's identity change? ›

Identity 3: Janie has a realization that being married does not necessarily mean that there will be love. From learning this, she becomes a woman.

What is Janie's most noticeable physical characteristic? ›

3. What was Janie's most noticeable physical characteristic? She had beautiful, long dark hair.

Is Jody abusive to Janie? ›

She insults his sagging body and declares that he looks like “de change uh life” when naked. The force of the insult stuns the men on the porch. Jody feels impotent, his reputation in the town diminished and his power vanishing. He lashes out in a blind rage, fiercely hitting Janie and driving her from the store.

Is Janie happy at the end? ›

That is truly what the novel is about: the progression of life experiences for Janie that finally resulted in her achieving the happiness she desired. Though she endured tragedy, she did end up happy in the end.

How did Janie develop as a character? ›

Janie develops as a woman with the three marriages she has. In each marriage she learns precious lessons, has increasingly better relationships, and realizes how a person is to live his/her life.

Does Janie like being alone? ›

Janie begins to enjoy her freedom: ". . . she liked being lonesome for a change. This freedom feeling was fine." One other positive outcome of Joe's death is Janie's deepening friendship with Pheoby.

What was Janie's most noticeable characteristic? ›

What was Janie's most noticeable physical characteristic? She had beautiful, long dark hair.

How is Janie a feminist in Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

After undergoing the repeated failures in her marriages, Janie eventually has the feminist awareness and becomes independent as a woman. Moreover, Hurston's novel does not only examine racism from a certain perspective as being between blacks and whites, but she also broadens the concept of racism.

Does Janie find love in Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

It is with Tea Cake that Janie discovers true love. Janie's marriage to Tea Cake makes her feel like she has been given a second chance in life to live her youth; she feels reborn. With Tea Cake, she is actually having fun and is truly happy.

How did Janie change throughout her marriages? ›

After her marriage to Jody Starks, Janie realized that equality is important within a marriage. When Janie married Tea Cake, she realized true love could be found. Janie learned through her three marriages even though she had bad experiences with love; there was a thing as true love.


1. Their Eyes Were Watching God - So You Haven't Read Zora Neale Hurston
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3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston | Chapter 8
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4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston | Chapter 20
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5. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston | Chapter 6
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6. Their Eyes Were Watching God Book Discussion
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