Summary Analysis Janie is raised by her grandmother Nanny, and never met her mother or father.
Historical context[ edit ] Racial Climate in the Early s[ edit ] With legislation like the Jim Crow lawsenacted from tomany African-Americans were disfranchised.
Groups like the Ku Klux Klan terrorized black citizens, leading to the steady decline of African-American political representation. Baptist preacher Thomas Dixon, Jr. The book was so popular that Dixon wrote a trilogy. His second novel, The Clansmanwas adapted for the silent film The Birth of a Nationportraying African-American men in an unintelligent, sexually aggressive light The renaissance was meant to be a liberating response to the restrictive standards of the Racial Uplift program, encouraging writers and artists to expose racist oppression in American society.
In an essay by Nick Aaron Ford, Hurston is quoted to have to said, "Many Negroes criticise my book, because I did not make it a lecture on the race problem.
I am interested in you now, not as a Negro man but as a man. I am not interested in the race problem, Their eyes were watching god janies I am interested in the problems of individuals, white ones and black ones. Hurston viewed her work as distinct from the work of fellow Harlem Renaissance writers she described as the "sobbing school of Negrohood" that portrayed the lives of black people as constantly miserable, downtrodden and deprived.
Completely rejecting the Uplift agenda, the magazine also included homoerotic work as well as portrayals of prostitution. Readers receive the story of her life in three major periods corresponding to her marriages to three very different men.
Nanny is an elderly woman who, as a slave, was raped by her owner and gave birth to a mixed-race daughter Leafy. Nanny escaped from her jealous mistress and found a good home after the end of the American Civil War.
Nanny tried to create a good life for her daughter, but Leafy was raped by her school teacher and became pregnant with Janie. Eventually, she ran away, leaving her daughter Janie with Nanny. Although Janie is not interested in either Logan or marriage, her grandmother wants her to have the stability she never had; legal marriage to Killicks, Nanny believes, will give Janie opportunities.
Nanny feels that Janie will be unable to take care of herself, so she must marry a man who will take care of her. However, Killicks wants a domestic helper rather than a lover or partner; he thinks Janie does not do enough around the farm and that she is ungrateful. Janie speaks to Nanny about how she feels, but Nanny, too, accuses her of being spoiled.
Soon afterward, Nanny dies. Unhappy, disillusioned, and lonely, Janie chooses to leave Killicks and runs off with the glib Jody Joe Starks, who takes her to EatonvilleFlorida.
Finding the small town residents unambitious, Starks arranges to buy more land, establishes a general store which he has built by local residents, and is soon elected as mayor of the town.
Janie soon realises that Starks wants her as a trophy wifeto reinforce his powerful position in town. He treats her as his property, controlling what she wears and says, and criticizes her mistakes.
He also begins to strike her occasionally.
As time passes, he teases her in public about being old, even though she is only in her thirties. Eventually, she cannot bear it and snaps back at Joe to look at himself. Starks hits her as hard as he can. Later, he gets sick, and refuses to let Janie see him.
He does not realize that he has a failing kidney, a likely fatal illness. When Janie learns that he might die, she goes to talk to him. She tells him who she really is and says that he never knew because he would not let her be free.
After Starks dies, Janie becomes financially independent through his estate. She is beset with suitors, some of whom are men of some means or have prestigious occupations, and all of whom she turns down.
She meets a young drifter and gambler named Vergible Woods who goes by the name "Tea Cake". Tea Cake plays the guitar for her and initially treats her with kindness and respect. At first Janie is doubtful of his affections, as she is older and has wealth, but eventually falls in love with him.
Deciding to run away with him, Janie has a friend look after the store, and the two head to Jacksonville to marry. They move to the Everglades region "the muck" where they find work planting and harvesting beans.Further Study. Test your knowledge of Their Eyes Were Watching God with our quizzes and study questions, or go further with essays on the context and background and .
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Delete Cancel. Janie's Hair as a Symbol in "Their Eyes Were Watching God" Janie's Hair as a Symbol in "Their Eyes Were Watching God" Guiding Questions.
The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His.
They seemed to be . Janie’s Growth in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston In the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie has allowed us to better understand the restraints that women in society had to deal with in a male dominated society.
Their Eyes Were Watching God begins at the end of the story: we first see Janie after she has already grown old, concluded the adventures that she will relate, and been “tuh de horizon and back.” Her story then spins out of her own mouth as she sits talking to Pheoby.
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel that is concerned with issues of speech and how speech is both a mechanism of control and a vehicle of liberation. Yet Janie Starks remains silent during key moments in her life.