Their Eyes Were Watching God: Love and Marriage
Love and marriage is one of the most prominent journeys that Janie goes experiences while achieving a subconscious, life-long pursuit of personal fulfillment. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston sets the tone for the general theme of this story, love and marriage. Janie Mae Crawford marries three times. One arranged by Nanny, one she decides to leave, and the third seemed almost too good to be true, and it was. Tea Cake is the only man in which Janie found everlasting love. Janie desires true love for she has spent her life dreaming of it and waiting for it to come true.
Logan Killicks was Janie’s first husband and only arranged marriage. He was a wealthy man who could provide for her, which is just what Nanny wanted for her, but Janie thought otherwise. She shows her disproval of Logan, “The vision of Logan Killicks was desecrating the pear tree, but Janie didn’t know how to tell Nanny that” (Hurston 14). Stability is not the only thing Janie is looking for in a man. She wants to have fun and love her husband, not just feel useless. Janie just could not see herself loving Logan, even though she wanted to, since Nanny approved of Logan. She knew now that marriage did not make love” (Hurston 25). The way Logan treats Janie is almost neglectful. He hardly ever admires or gives attention to her. “Janie noticed that her husband had stopped talking in rhymes to her. He had ceased to wonder at her long black hair and finger it” and he also makes it very clear that he wants her to work “‘You done been spoilt rotten”’ (Hurston 26). Janie is a wife, not a field hand. She will do the household chores, but she is not about to do a man’s job or work the plow. Janie is not interested in the slightest bit to do any kind of favors for Logan.
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He shouldn’t expect her to work for him. She is almost useless as a wife, especially since she does not love him. This marriage just didn’t work out, after all, there was nothing holding it together from the start. Janie’s second marriage was to Joe Starks, or Jody, for short. When he walked down the road, anything seemed better than staying with Logan and she was immediately infatuated with him, as he was with her. “‘Janie, you think Ah aims to tole you off and make a dog outa you, youse wrong. Ah wants to make a wife outa you”’ (Hurston 29).
Jody arrived at the perfect time. Janie was ready to run away with him and leave Logan. This man really loved her and would treat her right. This didn’t last for long, though. After some time, Janie realized that now Joe was neglecting her as well. “‘Naw, Ah ain’t no young gal no mo’ but den Ah ain’t no old woman neither. Ah reckon Ah looks mah age too. But Ah’m uh woman every inch of me, and Ah know it. Dat’s uh whole lot more’n you kin say. You big-bellies round here and put out a lot of brag, but ‘tain’t nothin’ to it but yo’ big voice. Humph! Talkin’ ‘bout me lookin’ old!
When you pull down yo’ britches, you look lak de change uh life. ” (Hurston 79). Janie argues with Jody in front of a crowd and Jody doesn’t know what to do so he slaps her. Janie took action and stood up for herself and certainly was not afraid to do so. She needed to put Jody in his place for treating her so poorly. Jody and Janie’s relationship didn’t last too much longer after that, for Tea Cake had already arrived. Janie had struck out with love yet again. Janie’s third husband Tea Cake was much younger than Janie, but that didn’t seem to bother her in the slightest.
Janie fell in love with his personality and charm, he made her laugh. “Then in a moment it was gone. Tea Cake wasn’t strange. Seemed as if she had known him all her life. Look how she had been able to talk with him right off! He tipped his hat at the door and was off with the briefest good night” (Hurston 99). Despite all of the bad rumors about him, Janie loved Tea Cake, and there was not a doubt about it. She really loved for the first time and wasn’t trying to hold back. Their relationship came naturally and with ease.
Janie trusts Tea Cake with her life, she has full confidence in him, whether it be money, a place to live, or anything for that matter. ‘“And honey, don’t you worry ‘bout yo’ lil ole two hundred dollars. It’s big pay day dis comin’ Saturday at de railroad yards. Ah’m gointuh take dis twelve dollars in mah pocket and win it all back and mo’ ”’ (Hurston 125). Although she hasn’t known Tea Cake that long, Janie truly believes his word, even though everyone tells her not to. He is gambling all of her money and she isn’t the least bit worried or suspicious.
If Tea Cake loves Janie, and Janie loves Tea Cake, there is not one thing in the world that matters more to her. Janie desires true love and can finally achieve it with Tea Cake. It was a long journey that Janie went on, and it was a struggle. Janie’s two rough marriages do not even matter now that she is married to Tea Cake. Janie developed from a young woman who didn’t know what she wanted to a strong and independent individual. Marriage does not make love, and in her last marriage, she found love before. After all, third time’s the charm.