Throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie exhibits a yearning for a relationship which will fulfill her fantasies and desires for a perfect, whimsical relationship with a man. While dreaming about relationships, she often fantasizes about the Pear Tree, symbolizing her youth, beauty and fertility. Janie frequents the notion of the ideal bond of flesh, blood, and soul – much more than was to be expected of nearly all marriages of the time, especially for a poor African American woman living with no male presence in her household.
Janie’s first marriage, to Logan Killicks, is arranged by her grandmother. Though only sixteen and initially hesitant to join Logan in matrimony, Janie eventually accepts her grandmother’s judgment and marries him. For the first few months of their marriage (Hurston, 26) we know that Logan treats Janie like a queen, calling her “sugar” (Hurston, 22), “honey” (Hurston, 22), and other endearing terms, “[marveling] at her long black hair” (Hurston, 26), and speaking to her in rhymes. Soon thereafter, however, Janie observed that her husband’s amorous behavior had all but ceased. Rather, it had given way to an arguably understandable expectance of her to work and pull her weight, both literally and figuratively, around the property. It is at this point which Janie truly realizes that this is not at all what she dreamed of in life, and that her whimsical dreams were not being fulfilled. Enter Jody Starks, a smooth talking, snappily dressed young man who wins Janie’s heart almost instantly. It is here that Janie first begins to show her romantic escapist tendencies.
... Through Janie, Hurston gives an example of a woman in society who follows her dreams and takes control of her soul. After three marriages ... in which she is owned by the men in the relationship, Janie finds ... spend her life as a slave, she runs away from Logan to be with a man that she had met only ...
After about two weeks of secret trysts, each time Janie falling more and more for Jody, Jody asks her to leave Logan and run away with him. Two days later, Janie leaves Logan for Jody, expecting a better life where she will be treated more romantically and not be put to work. Though Janie’s life with Logan was not by any means a perfectly ideal one for her, it was exceedingly better than what many, many other African American women have at the time. However, Janie seems far too self-interested and wrapped up in her fancy to ever stop and consider this fact.
Janie and Jody arrive in the Florida town they had decided to move to, and find that it only has a few inhabitants. After establishing himself as an intelligent and well-off man, Jody manages to propel himself to the status of mayor. During his inaugural address Janie is asked to make a speech, to which Jody replies, “mah wife don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh woman and her place is in de home” (Hurston, 40).
Understandably, this makes Janie uncomfortable and, though what she wants is to be at home rather than working in the fields, it is unnerving for her to hear Jody speak her own opinion for her, especially this one.
In the following chapters, the marital tension between Janie and Jody grows immensely, and is most evident in Janie’s rising discontent with working in the shop. The two argue often, mostly about the quality of Janie’s work and her frequent, but understandable, mistakes. Throughout all of this, Janie’s lack of satisfaction with Jody Starks as mate is clearly waxing. One evening Janie serves Jody his dinner, and because it is not cooked perfectly, as he expected it to be, Jody beats Janie, then storms off to the store. As Janie stands there, frozen, she realizes that her perception of Jody had been shattered. In fact, what she had seen in Jody all along was not what her dreams dictated were required of a man, but rather “just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over (Hurston, 72).”
The narrator makes it clear that Janie now views her relationship with Jody as noticeably lacking, and is depressed by this. As the years pass, Janie often feels detached from her current situation, “[sticking] out into the future, imagining her life different from what it [is] (Hurston, 76).” She seems completely resigned from her once, in her mind, attainable dreams of a “perfect life” with the “perfect man.” During this time period in the book, Janie’s outlook on life closely resembles the narrator’s commentary on men, where “ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board (Hurston, 1).” All of Janie’s seemingly unfeasible dreams are now distant and far out of reach. Janie remains in this state until, one day, she realizes that physically Jody isn’t what he used to be. Jody has become an old man. Later, in the store, Jody makes yet another comment about Janie’s aging features. This time, feeling somewhat newly empowered, Janie retorts, “when you pull down yo’ britches, you look lak de change uh life (Hurston, 78).” While having no external consequences, it is made clear how much this comment hurt Jody, “robbing him of the illusion of irresistible maleness that all men cherish (Hurston, 79).” Though here Janie is a very long way off from her dream-life as she imagined it, this moment helps her to feel more alive and in control of her situation, a key step to the recovery of her dream.
... work in the fields. The same day, Janie met Jody Starks, a smooth-tongued, stylish man. Her dreams of love came alive again. He ... other hand, while many black writers during Hurston's heyday produced protest literature, Hurston simply wrote about race differently.Throughout Their Eyes ... attests to their will to survive and celebrate their lives despite harsh conditions. Her use of the vernacular of ...
Though Janie felt bonded by Jody, she still cared and had feelings for him, as exemplified in the passage in which she tried to bring him soup, and he replies, “naw, thank you, ah’m havin’ uh hard enough time tuh try and git well as it is (Hurston, 82).” This causes Janie to start crying to her friend Phoeby, saying, “I’d ruther be dead than for Jody tuh think Ah’d hurt him (Hurston, 82).”