Zora Neale Hurston\'s: Their Eyes Were Watching God


In the novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God", the author, Zora Neale
Hurston, attempts to bring into light problems caused by prejudism.
However, as she tries to show examples of inequality through various
character relationships, examples of equality are revealed through other
relationships. Janie, the novel\'s main character, encounters both
inequality and equality through the treatment she receives during her three
marriages.

Janie\'s first marriage is to Logan Killicks. Logan enters the marriage
with a large portion of land. However, Janie enters the marriage with
practically nothing. This ends up becoming a relationship based on
inequality because Logan starts to use his ownership of the land to control
Janie. He tries to make her feel that she owes him for part of the land,
which he is sharing with her. What begins as a relationship in which Logan
struggles to make Janie happy, turns into a relationship in which Janie is
expected to make Logan happy. She is often reprimanded for not doing enough
work or for not working in certain areas such as the fields.

It is during that unhappy marriage that Janie meets Jody Stark, who
comes along with dreams of power, wealth, and happiness. " De day you puts
yo\' hand in mine, Ah wouldn\'t let de sun go down on us single. Ah\'m a man
wid principles. You ain\'t never knowed what it was like to be treated lak a
lady and Ah wants to be de one tuh show yuh." (Pg.28) Janie is promised
that she will be treated quite well. So naturally, she leaves Logan and
sets out for a new town with Jody. This relationship can be classified as
equal in some aspects. However, for the most part, this too becomes a
marriage based on inequality. Joe gains the power he wanted and Janie gains
part of the wealth and fame associated with his power. Therefore, both Joe
and Janie are looked up to by the townspeople. To some extent, this could
be considered a form of equality. Unfortunately, this is about where the
equality stops. While Joe gains prominence through his own actions and
words, Janie gains some prominence by doing what she is told to do. She is
not permitted to voice her own opinions or join in the lighthearted
gossiping which occurs outside of their store. Janie is expected to be the
dutiful wife. If she makes a mistake, then she should have known better and
therefore should accept her punishment quietly. Joe holds the obvious upper
hand in the relationship until his death whereupon Janie inherits a large
amount of money and learns to enjoy the freedom of living as her own
person.

Then Janie meets Tea Cake. Their courtship and marriage involve many
different forms of equality which are not seen in Janie\'s past
relationships. The equalities exhibited include Tea Cake and Janie\'s
equality to one another as persons, and equality in "age," love, and money.

As two different people, Janie and Tea Cake are allowed to live their
lives as equals. When living with Joe, Janie is never allowed to do things
such as speaking her mind, playing games, or doing anything which is not
completely ladylike. Tea Cake encourages her to do things which were
previously not open to her, such as playing chess, speaking openly about
her feelings, and hunting. He teaches Janie to shoot and hunt wild game.
"Oh you needs tuh learn how. Tain\'t no need uh you not knowin how tuh
handle shootin\' tools. Even if you didn\'t never find no game, it\'s always
some trashy rascal dat needs uh good killin\'." (Pp.124-125) This would have
been unheard of in her marriage to Joe. Another contrast in her marriages
is that when married to Joe, Janie works in the store because she is forced
into it. However, when married to Tea Cake, she works in the fields out of
love.

As far as their age difference goes, it is only noticeable in the
physical aspect. Obviously by years, there exists a large gap between their
actual ages. However, psychologically, they are at the same age level. Tea
Cake enables Janie to experience a part of her life which was previously
overlooked. He lets her feel young again. The age difference between them
is only noticeable because it is specifically stated in the story when they
meet. By feeling and acting younger, Janie, in a way, becomes a younger
person equal, psychologically, to Tea Cake.

Just as Tea Cake teaches Janie how to be young again, he also teaches
her