Marriage in Their Eyes Were Watching God

For generations marriage has been accepted as a bond between two people. However, the ideals concerned in marriage differ by the people involved. The book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston clearly demonstrates these differences. In the book a woman by the name Janie is raised by her grandmother and so married off by her grandmother. Originally all Janie knows of marriage and love is what her grandma tells her. Janie moves on in her life and re-marries, she finds that everybody has their own idea towards the role of their spouses in marriage.

Over time Janie begins to develop her own concepts and ideals. In Their Eyes We’re Watching God each principle character has their own perceptions towards marriage. Janie experiences three different viewpoints of marriage, the first is Logan Killicks the man her Nanny Wanted her to marry, two Jody Starks the man she taught was the perfect husband and Tea Cake who helped her feel love.

Get quality help now
Doctor Jennifer
Doctor Jennifer
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Free Essays

star star star star 5 (893)

“ Thank you so much for accepting my assignment the night before it was due. I look forward to working with you moving forward ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Each Person gives her Knowledge of what marriage is and how to handle it.

The first ideas that Janie was exposed to was those of her grandma, Nanny. Nanny saw that Janie was getting into womanhood and she did not wish Janie to expertise what her mother went through. So, Nanny embarked on to marry her as presently as potential. When Janie asked concerning love, Janie considers the idea of love essential to a marriage, and she thinks that because she still doesn’t love Logan, something has gone wrong.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

She earnestly wants to love the man and make the marriage work, but Nanny brushes off her worries as frivolous. she was told that marriage makes love and she will find love after she marries Logan. Nanny believed that love was second to stability and security. Nanny stated “Well, if he do all dat whut you come in heah wid uh face long as mah arm for?

Cause you told me Ah wuz gointer love him, and, and Ah don’t. Maybe if somebody was to tell me how, Ah could do it.' 'You come head wid yo’ mouf full uh foolishness on uh busy day. Heah you got uh prop tuh lean on all yo’ bawn days, and big protection, and everybody got tuh tip dey hat tuh you and call you Mis’ Killicks, and you come worryin’ me ‘bout love.' (Hurston 3.17-19). Only when those initial two criteria were glad then and solely then might one expertise love. Nanny felt that a young woman like Janie was too young to create choices for herself, therefore once she caught Janie exploring her womanhood Nanny felt that she required to marry Janie as quickly as possible, so she may realize love in very safe secure surroundings.

Second, Janie sees Logan Killicks who in the beginning it appears to Janie that Logan is a very nice gentleman, who is constantly treating her well. However, as time goes on, Janie see Logan's true colors. Logan feels that if they're each planning to live along and share their lives then they ought to do an equal quantity of labor. Logan presently puts Janie to figure and treats her additional sort of a mule than a spouse. Janie thinks that both men and women have their proper places in a marriage; the man should be out in the barn scooping up the manure while the woman should be indoors, making meals. Logan, however, thinks that the woman should serve the man, no matter what place he wants to put her in. Essentially, a woman has no defined identity or role outside of what her husband gives her. Janie’s marriage to Killicks as well as the events leading up to it very well explain Janie’s confusion and lack of maturity.

At a very young age Janie had already experiences a lack of identity of herself. Also, love does not appear to be incorporated in Logan's definition of marriage. Janie talks about how ugly he is, “His belly is too big too, now, and his toe-nails look lak mule foots. And ‘tain’t nothin’ in de way of him washin’ his feet every evenin’ before he comes tuh bed. ‘Tain’t nothin’ tuh hinder him ‘cause Ah places de water for him. Ah’d ruther be shot wid tacks tan tuh turn over in de bed and stir up de air whilst he is in dere. He don’t even never mention nothin’ pretty.' She began to cry.'Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think. Ah…' (Hurston 3.26-28).

Her marriage to Killicks sets the first stage she undergoes in her life. Logan seems to think that a black woman can’t demand any respect or good treatment and ought to be happy as her husband’s workhorse. If she demands anything better, Logan thinks that Janie is putting on airs. Logan quotes “Considerin’ youse born in a carriage ‘thout no top to it, and yo’ mama and you bein’ born and raised in de white folks back-yard.' (Hurston 4.40). Next thing you know Janie meets Jody Starks is a thriving politician with a hard work ethic. Joe resembles a white slave master in more than one way. He is well fed like the well-to-do bourgeois Caucasians. He also carries himself with all of the confidence and authority of a man sure to get what he wants. Though Janie initially admires these attributes in Joe, she quickly finds that too much of this good thing can quickly become stifling and pretentious. Joe’s treatment of women also defines him; he acts like women are objects to be owned and ordered around by men.

This treatment of women is a double-edged sword; Joe highly values Janie as a trophy wife. Joe tells Janie 'You behind a plow! You ain’t got no mo’ business wid uh plow than uh hog is got wid uh holiday! You ain’t got no business cuttin’ up no seed p’taters neither. A pretty doll-baby lak you is made to sit on de front porch and rock and fan yo’self and eat p’taters dat other folks plant just special for you.' (Hurston 4.26). He says he loves Janie and even treats her the manner a queen ought to be treated. Jody keeps Janie looking prim and proper in the house and store. Jody believes that girls ought to be seen and not heard. Janie’s long marriage to Jody Sparks does affect her in the long run. Janie goes from working like a mule with Logan to be the mayor’s wife which comes with an authority that she is not used to; her expression shows just that, Joe considers women to be on the same intellectual level as children and domesticated animals. He imposes this view on Janie, never considering how it feels to be a woman.

When she protests, he gets more adamant, attempting to maintain a position of authority by harping on women’s stupidity and lack of perception. In the novel joe quotes “Somebody got to think for women and chillun and chickens and cows. I god, they sho don’t think none theirselves.' 'Ah knows uh few things, and womenfolks thinks sometimes too!' 'Aw naw they don’t. They just think they’s thinkin’. When Ah see one thing Ah understands ten. You see ten things and don’t understand one.' (Hurston 6.180-182). This new attitude from Janie comes as a surprise because she has always dealt with both Logan and Joe’s oppressions on her. Once Joe falls ill, Janie takes the opportunity and talks him through her unhappiness with him and their marriage. She continues to recite her grief despite of Joe’s pleads. Jody’s death came along with Janie’s most significant character growth in the novel. The immediate removal of her head rags she was forced to wear because of Jody represents her movement into an independent stage of her life.

Janie still cannot realize love and continues her search. The final person who Janie tries to seek out love in is Tea Cake Woods. Tea Cake comes in a very rescues Janie from her misery after the death of Jody. He wins Janie’s heart with his carefree, fun-loving nature. She adores his energy and willingness to make her his equal, his sense of gender equality continues when Tea Cake asks Janie to work alongside him in the Everglades fields. Both of Janie’s earlier husbands wanted her to work, too, but she resented it. The difference is that Logan wanted Janie to do hard labor because he thought of her as an object like a work horse to dominate and utilize. Joe wanted Janie to work in the store, which she also disliked because Joe did little work himself and through forcing her to work, he mostly wanted to publicly display her as his trophy wife and to prove that he was the boss of her. It is here that Janie finally finds what true love is, Tea Cake's plan of marriage could be a mutual relationship wherever he would favor to support Janie.

However, once times are rough Janie volitionally helps Tea Cakes within the fields. Tea Cake believes in being completely honest with Janie and doesn't try to hold anything from her. Tea Cakes teaches her a new look on life after experiencing what she has missed out all her years. Tea Cake, just like Joe, was introduced to Janie at the right time. Janie was more emotionally stable currently unlike before, yet she stills falls in love easily. This pleasant delight that someone cared for her and showed her new things. Janie falls more and more in love with Tea Cake because he does not prohibit her from doing anything. She is finally given the freedom she desires. Janie develops a sense of trust when she is with Tea Cake because she is no longer mistreated by the one she loves. Tea Cake’s careless and free lifestyle opens Janie’s eyes to something she has never seen before leading her to become an overall better person. Tea Cake declares his love and faithfulness to Janie. He comes out and states that Janie’s age is of no consequence to him.

Tea Cake’s last sentence renders love as some sort of inexplicable force that mortal men cannot resist. Janie should be especially responsive to this because she has been swept away by passion before, first under the pear tree of her youth and now by Tea Cake. 'Twasn’t ‘cause Ah wanted tuh stay off lak day, and it sho Lawd, wuzn’t no woman. If you didn’t have de power tuh hold me and hold me tight, Ah wouldn’t be callin’ yuh Mis’ Woods. Ah met plenty women before Ah knowed you tuh talk tuh. You’se de onliest woman in de world Ah ever even mentioned gittin married tuh. You bein’ older don’t make no difference. Don’t never consider dat no mo’. If Ah ever gits tuh messin’ round another woman it won’t be on account of her age. It’ll be because she got me in de same way you got me—so Ah can’t help mahself.' (Hurston 13.26-27).

Tea cakes starts to change after a hurricane strikes their town hard and he gets bite by a dog trying to save Janie, However, Tea Cake has a seed of jealousy in him, which completely takes over when he gets rabies from the mad dog: 'Janie, whut is dat Tuner woman’s brother doin’ back on de muck? 'Ah don’t know, Tea Cake. Didn’t even knowed he wuz back.'Accordin’ tuh mah notion, you did. Whut you slip off from me just now for? 'Tea Cake, Ah don’t lak you astin’ me no sich question. Dat shows how sick you are sho nuff. You’se jealous ‘thout me givin’ you cause. 'Well, whut didja slip off from de house ‘thout tellin’ me you wuz goin’. You ain’t never done dat befo’. 'Dat wuz cause Ah wuz tryin’ not tuh let yuh worry ‘bout yo’ condition. De doctah sent after some mo’ medicine and Ah went tuh see if it come.' (Hurston 19.117-122).

Tea Cake's rabies-fueled jealousy is what ends up killing him: when he attempts to shoot Janie because he thinks she's two-timing him; she shoots him in self-defense. Tea Cake might be considered a tragic hero because his pride keeps him from leaving the Everglades when signs of the oncoming hurricane are evident. Pride also keeps him from calling on a doctor when he desperately needs care. But, Hurston makes it obvious that during his last few hours, Tea Cake isn't there; he has been replaced by some monstrous, bloodthirsty creature. The legacy of Tea Cake, then, remains untarnished.

In the starting she felt that marriage created love. But soon she found that to be untrue. In every of her marriages she found that marriage expectations were completely different for everybody. Janie found that marriage changes with the participants and you need to realize one with who you're compatible. Everyone has separate ideas of what marriage ought to be. As Janie learned marriage is what you create of it. Love will solely be found once your beliefs coincide with another's ideas.


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
Cite this page

Marriage in Their Eyes Were Watching God. (2021, Dec 03). Retrieved from

Marriage in Their Eyes Were Watching God essay
Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment