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Essay by Anh Pham Eventual Fulfillment In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston depicts Janie’s intense desire for true love along with the arduous and prolonged journey that she undergoes to achieve it. Along the way, she fails to find affection with Logan Killicks and to stand against Joe Starks’s restraints. And even though Janie eventually gets to experience genuine love and live a happy life with Tea Cake, it is the independence and experience gained from facing hardship that truly brings her serenity. Unlike Janie’s two former husbands, Tea Cake stands out as a partner who perceives her as an equal and respects her opinion. Her first spouse, Logan Killicks, sees Janie as nothing more than an insignificant presence running errands, whose space is confined to a mere kitchen. After almost a year of marriage, he gets tired of chopping the woods by himself and compares her to his previous wife, who would help out by “[grabbing] dat ax and [slinging] chips lak uh man” (26). Similarly, Joe Starks, whom Janie runs off to when leaving Logan, actively restricts her activities and interests because of her place as the mayor’s wife. He forces her to stay in the store all day and forbids her participation in the town’s business while making sure that “her hair [is] NOT going to show” in public (55). Janie’s first exchange with Tea Cake, however, immediately proves his respect for her as he unhesitatingly shows her how to play checkers. Janie “[finds] herself glowing inside” playing the game as the guest “[wants] her to play” and “[thinks] it natural for her to play” (96). Moving to the Everglades, the newly-wed couple plays balanced roles in sustaining their lives. Janie is “ready to pick beans along with Tea Cake” in the muck, and “Tea Cake would help get supper afterwards” (133). For the first time, Janie is under no constraint. Consequently, the ideal life and refreshing freedom in the Everglades provide Janie with the happiest years of her life. Previously, the unfortunate woman had always been suffocated and confined by people around her. At first, the marriage with Logan that Janie’s grandmother sets out leaves her a life without love. The young girl “[hates] her grandmother” because she “tie [the horizon] about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her” (89). Afterwards, Janie’s escape with Joe to Eatonville, despite her expectations, barely improves her restrained circumstances. Hindered from enjoying the town’s liveliness, she feels “de walls creepin’ up on me and squeezin’ all de life outa me” (112). Upon meeting Tea Cake, however, Janie gets to live a paradisiacal life for the first time in the Everglades. People play the same games and “[hold] big arguments here” just like in Eatonville. The difference is that she “could listen and laugh and even talk some herself if she wanted to” (134). The “self-crushing love” Janie feels along with the freedom to join her husband and fellow workers in their joyful nights on the porch leave her delighted and content (128). Ultimately, Janie once again suffers cruel fate as she is forced to end Tea Cake’s life. Nonetheless, though the happy days have passed, the turbulent journey has given her valuable experience and a strong sense of self-reliance. Married three times, Janie has seemingly experienced all that life has to offer. She is faced with Logan’s apathy, Joe’s suppression and discrimination, and in the end, she is immersed in euphoria with Tea Cake. The world has also hardened Janie and forged her into a self-sufficient woman. Living with Logan, she learns to


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Profile for The Gunnery

Stray Shot 2017  

Stray Shot 2017