Janie’s Quest In There Eyes Were Watching God Essay, Research Paper
Zora Neale Hurston s Their Eyes Were Watching God shows the life of Janie, a black woman at the turn of the century. Janie is raised by her Grandmother and spends her life traveling with different men until she finally comes home. Robert E. Hemenway says about the book, Their Eyes Were Watching God is … one of the most revealing treatments in modern literature of a woman s quest for a satisfying life I partially disagree with Hemenway because, although Janie is on a quest, it is not for a satisfying
life. She is on a quest for someone to lean on. Although she achieves a some what satisfying life, Janie s quest is for dependence rather than satisfaction.
The first two people Janie depended on were her Grandmother, called Nanny, and Logan Killicks. Janie s marriage to Logan Killicks was partially arranged by Nanny. She felt the need to find some one for Janie to depend on before she died and could no longer depend on her. At first Janie was very opposed to the marriage. Nanny responded with, Tain t Logan Killicks Ah wants you to have, baby, it s protection. …He (God) done spared me…a few days longer till Ah see you safe in life. (p.14) Nanny instilled a sense of needing a man to be safe on Janie that she keeps with her all through her life. After
Nanny s death, Janie continued to stay with Logan although she disliked him. She would have left if she didn t need him to depend on.
Next is Joe Starks. He is a kind of salvation to Janie. He is a well-dressed black man who has worked for white folks all his life and has earned enough to travel to a place where black people run the town. Janie meet Joe while she was still married to Logan. She wanted to leave Logan, but I don t think she would have if Joe hadn t come along. Joe convinced her that He would be better for her to depend on by telling her, Janie, if you think Ah aims to tole you off and make a dog outa you, youse wrong. Ah wants to make a wife outa you. (p.28) Janie took this invitation as a way to leave Logan without losing the dependency she needed.
The last man she depends on in the story is Tea Cake. He is a different kind of dependence , but still dependence. Janie depended on the other strong figures in her life for financial security and protection from the world, but with Tea Cake it was different. After Joe s death, he left Janie with money and the store but no one to love or keep her company. She needed to depend on Tea Cake to love her. I believe she realized this when she said, Tea Cake ain t no Jody Starks…but de minute Ah marries im gointuh be makin comparison. Dis ain t no business proposition…dis is uh love game. Ah done lived Grandma s way now Ah means tuh live mine. (p.108) She decided to seek a different type of dependence, but she is still using dependency to find satisfaction.
Instead of searching for a satisfying life, Janie searched for someone to depend on. Although they were different types of dependency, looking back at her life, she jumped from person to person she could lean on. Hemenway s uses the phrase quest for a satisfying life. Does that mean that he thinks she achieved a satisfying life? More importantantly does Janie believe she led a satisfying life? It s hard to tell.