Last Updated 21 Jul 2021

Their Eyes Were Watching God Book Summary

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Have you ever experienced something that changed your whole view of the world around you? Janie Crawford, the main character in 'Their eyes watching god', begins her search for love as a young girl, eager to experience the chance to find someone who could truly love her during the post slave era in the early 1900s. Later she soon faces the reality about life and love. 'Their eyes watching god', by Zora Neale Hurston, reveals that within every unfortunate experience lies a positive blessing. There were many similarities and differences between Janie's husbands, yet they all made an impact on Janies development.

Janie is introduced to her first husband Logan Killicks by Nanny, after realizing Janie is becoming sexually mature. Nanny feels that Logan is stable enough to provide for Janie. From early on Janie learns that security is more important than love, but this something Janie cant handle. “Nanny voices her disappointment in Janie because she sees no reason for Janie's discomfort. Janie was never really “in love” with Logan but was pressured into marriage. The continuing relationship was equally as strained.” This leads to Janie resenting Logan, because of his lack of affection. 'Ah wants things sweet: wid mail marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think, Ah , , , '. Hurston, Zora Neale. “1.” Their Eyes Were Watching God, p. 24. Being with Logan was the start of Janie’s journey she learns that you can't learn to love someone.

While staying with Logan, Janie encounters love with Jody Starks. Janie determines that she should take a chance with Jody by running off to Eatonville with Jody. At first Jody would say small remarks about the things that she does, soon Janie notices that he has began to resent Janie because of her beauty. Janie is forced into changing her appearance, personality, and is kept from speaking her mind. “He was jealous when other men looked at Janie so he made her put up her beautiful hair. Even the townsfolk wondered about it, saying , “Whut make her keep her head tied up lak some ole 'oman round de store? Nobody couldn't git me tuh tie no rag on mah head if Ah had hair lak dat.” (Hurstion 49). They also seemed to have insight into the reason for it, jelousy. “Maybe he make her do it. Maybe he skeered some de rest of us mens might touch it round dat store....” (Hurston 50).” Jody acts like women are objects and should be told how to behave. 'Dat's 'cause you need tellin' he rejoined hotly 'It would be pitiful if Ah didn't- Somebody got to think for women and chillun and chickens and cows. I god, they sho don't think none theirselves”. Hurston, Zora Neale. “6.” Their Eyes Were Watching God, p. 71. By being with Jody, Janie is taught that equality is important within a marriage, each person should have a say in what goes.

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Lastly, Janie leaves Eatonville and meets Tea Cake in Jacksonville, after he invites her to play checkers. After they get married they move to the Everglades where they pick beans together. From the beginning their something different about Tea Cake. He gets Janie’s heart with his lighthearted, fun personality. 'He set it up and began to show her and she found herself glowing inside. Somebody wanted her to play Somebody thought it natural for her to play That was even nice. She looked him over and got little thrills from every one of his good points. Those fall, lazy eyes with the lashes curling sharply away like drawn scimitars. The lean over-padded shoulders and narrow waist. Even nice!” Hurston, Zora Neale. “10.” Their Eyes Were Watching God, pp. 95–96. Janie loves the eagerness that he has to make her his equal, and the ability to both talk and listen. 'Janie is comfortable enough in her marriage with Tea Cake that she is able to speak what she feels. She does not hold anything back and does not bite her tongue when she has something to say to Tea Cake. She feels free to express her thoughts and concerns. After Tea Cake returns from his two-day hiatus, Janie warns, “Tea Cake, if you don’t hurry up and tell me, Ah’ll take and beat yo’ head flat as uh dime” (122). This quote contains some harsh words, but their love is strong enough where they understand each other, and Tea Cake regards the threat as Janie’s love for him. Another powerful line is when Janie lectures.' By being with Tea Cake, Janie realized that true love can be found.

Being with someone who genuinely loves you can change your whole view of the world. Throughout Janie's journey, she deals with three marriages that taught her valuable lessons. Overall this made Janie gained all respect and confidence for herself back.

Works Cited

  1. Grey, Katey. “Their Eyes Were Watching God: Analyzing Relationships.” Teenink, 27 Aug. 2010, www.teenink.com/nonfiction/academic/article/243365/Their-Eyes-Were-Watching-God-Analyzing-Relationships/.
  2. Murakami, Kim. To an Analysis of Zora Neale Hurston's There Eyes Were Watching God. 7AD, courses.washington.edu/kgb2lit/harlem/student_projects/murakami/index.html.
  3. Dunbar, Eve. What I Learned About Love from Rereading ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God.’ 8 June 2017, www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/blog/learned-love-rereading-eyes-watching-god/.

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