Their Eyes Were Watching God: Theme Analysis
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” is a novel that explores the life of Janie Crawford, who is a girl of a mixed white and black heritage. In her adolescence, when pollinating flowers in her pear tree at the backyard, she became obsessed with finding true love. This follows with the narrations in the novel documenting her emotional maturity and growth through three marriages. Janie’s first marriage is to Logan Kilicks, a marriage that is planned and executed by a well-intentioned grandmother. Janie soon leaves this marriage and marries Joe, who has rigid definitions of woman’s roles and often does not listen to Janie. After the death of Joe, Janie meets and marries a fun loving Tea Cake, who is twelve years younger than Janie. With Tea Take, Janie finds the true love she had dreamt living and working in the fields of Everglades (Hurston, pp. 63-119).
With time, disaster arrives in the form of a hurricane though Tea Cake is given warning of the impending disaster; he chooses to stay because of love for money. The hurricane hits the residence hard. In the process of fleeing the storm, Tea Cake saves Janie from a fierce dog but he is bitten. Teac cake contracts rabbis and becomes paranoiac, aggressive and suspicious over Janie. Eventually, Janie is forced to shoot Tea Cake to save her life, where she is ultimately tried in a court of law and pronounced innocent.
The discussion depicts the theme of male chauvinism, which has been in existence not only among the Americans of black descent but also among the whites. In the book “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, the author depicts this theme through the actions of Joe Stark, who feels the position of the females should be in the kitchen and house making. Before developments of rules for promotion of female emancipation, women had been suffering in silence at the hands of their spouses, a stereotype that was supported by the societal norms.
Janie deals with the problem of male chauvinism by being submissive and cooperative with the husband but this turns out to be devastating, and she ultimately does not find true love in this kind marriage. The theme of male chauvinism is critical in the novel as it helps the reader intrinsically understand women’s plight in the society. In the current contemporary world, male chauvinism is not eliminated, and there are still forms of undermining women, which is evidence in the distribution of public positions.
Racism, nepotism, and corruption are among the core evils that inhibit the progression and effective application of the rule of law. Racism is evident in instances when a member of one-race roebucks of punishes a member of the same race for wrongdoing and other members of the race rebukes him/her. The prevalence of racism in the society is depicted in the novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” when Joe exiles Pitts for theft and some members of the community criticize him.
In the modern context, people have been criticized for offering services of denial of services to members of their race, a move that is associated with racism and corruption. In a community like the teenage grouping, it is difficult to deal with the resolution of these vices in the community, as one would feel alienated by members of the grouping if he/she does not act in a manner that favors the members of the same grouping. Nevertheless, the best cause of action is to treat all people fairly without favor or prejudice irrespective of the race, or the social proximity one is to the other.
As depicted in the novel, the marriage of Janie to Joe earned her a position of being the wife to the mayor, thus giving her advantages like financial stability and not having to work heard. In her later marriage, she marries Tea Cake, lived in shacks and had to work hard to earn a living. Nevertheless, Janie proved to be happier in the latter marriage as opposed to the marriage with the mayor. This was because of understanding that existed between Janie and Tea Cake. Her position was not only restricted to the kitchen but also included in decision-making regarding her life and love thus making her happier. Being in a situation similar to Janie, it would be preferable to live with Tea Cake and adopt a life free from subjugation and oppression based on gender.
The flow of a novel is significantly influenced by the mannerism of characterization in the novel. In “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, the characters are round as they differently represented different situations and personalities in the normal life. The dynamic nature of the character enabled the flow of the novel to appear realistic and portray normal occurrence. Characters like Joe in represents the dynamic nature of characterization like when she says the place of women is in the kitchen; this is an actual representation of what is reflected in the contemporary society.
Hurston, Z. N. (2000). Their eyes were watching God. New York: Harper Collins.