THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD
A caterpillar crawls along a desolate branch. His many appendages grip the gray bark as he undulates his body along the path in the shade. Creeping steadily forward he is looking for the proper place suitable enough for him to change his identity. Upon finding a twig sprout where he can get bilateral support, he builds his cocoon. After his cocoon is finished the caterpillar crawls in for his metamorphosis. If one is to see a cocoon on a tree it does not resemble beauty, it is a bland piece of wound thread like material with a hole in the top. When one sees a butterfly they may look twice or stop what they are doing all together and chase it around following each of their sporadic movements as the hot sun illuminates and watches from above. Identity has changed. What once was a little ugly caterpillar that kids would go around squishing and people would flick from trees when given the chance, went on to be an ignored sack secured to branch. Nobody pays attention to the fact that beautiful butterflies are the results of these common eyesores. As the caterpillar grew older it matured and changed, from being stuck on land to airborne, from being ugly to beautiful, from being young to old. All living things mature, all things change, wherever time is a variable identities are changing. Janie is no different from these things, she too has a changing identity that can be traced throughout four main parts in the book.
Janie is a young girl who at first docent even know her own identity. Being rose by her Nanny in a house full of white people, you could see how this could have been the start of an identity crisis. Janie was always treated like a white person during her youth, the people Nanny worked for dressed Janie as if she was white, they sent Janie to school with the other white children, and Janie?s friends were all white. Janie knew no better than to think she was white. That was her identity. One time when a picture was shown to her of her and all of her friends, Janie was missing and in her place was a black girl in her dress. She had no idea she was different from the other children. Black, black as night and different from her friends, this was a change in Janies identity. Janie now thought different of herself knowing she was black. Her identity had changed for the first time.
Janie was sent off to marry, Janie had envisionments of marrying for love and romance she says to Nanny after marrying Logan ?Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage….? . Janie had thought to her self ?Husbands and wives always loved each other, and that was what marriage meant.? (both exerts p.20-23) this is what Janie wanted, this is what Janie did not get. Janie had a bad marriage with Logan because her identity had changed. Janie went from being told what to do, to her own woman. Now Janie was ready for what she wanted, and now she knew who she is. Peoples perspective of Janie is a different kind of identity, but is still part of ones identity. People saw Janie as Logans woman now, man saw Janie as a good looker, and Logan saw Janie as his object. While outside pumping water, Janie noticed a man walk by. That man noticed Janie too. Jody Starks was his name and he was traveling south to an all Negro town. Jody noticed Janie as a beautiful woman who should be doing nothing but sitting on the porch in the shade. Jody offered to take Janie along with him to Eatonville to be his bride. Janie Accepts. Her identity has changed again, now she is Jodys woman.
Upon arrival to Eatonville, Jody becomes Mayor of the town, buys land, cleans up, builds a store, and builds a post office. Now Janie is considered the Mayor?s wife and Store keeper. Except by Pheoby her friend. Pheoby saw Janie as a exemplary woman beautiful in her ways, and knowledge to back it up. Janie and Jody didn?t get along for long, soon Jody was pestering her about the store and how she should be working harder. Jody also had a problem with the way other men were looking at Janie when she wasn?t looking. Jody made Janie wear her hair up in a hair rag which Janie did not want to do, this takes away from Janies own choices which makes her more Jodys Woman. Her Identity changes more to Jodys Woman. After Jody dies many suitors try to woo Janie into marriage with them, but she does not wish to get married. Janie?s identity has changed now, she is a single woman living on her own and doing just fine. Along comes Tea Cake to flirt with Janie and she flirts back. The whole town notices and thinks of Janie as a flirt messing with a no good man.
Janie marries Tea Cake for love and they live a simple life on the Muck harvesting beans. Janies identity has once again changed to Tea Cakes woman. Janie and Tea Cake live a very happy life on the simple land. At one point Tea Cake beats Janie just to show everybody else who?s boss. This reinforces Janies identity as Tea Cakes woman. After Tea Cakes death Janie is once again a single woman, though she dearly misses Tea Cake. Janie returns to Eatonville and moves back into her old house. Janie lives a simple life from then on with a fixed identity of her own woman.
All things mature and all things change, identities change so one can learn and grow old. As you can see Janie has endured her metamorphosis and turned out as a mature individual.