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Gender Roles in Their Eyes Were Watching God Essay


The book Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, does deal with race relations but the primary topic of the book is the difference between men and women. This subject is introduced immediately: "Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly." The story details the protagonists life story including three marriages, it is only at the end of the book that Janie can be herself and feels complete.

When the book was first published it angered many Blacks who felt that the book showed Whites at the time in too favorable of a light and reinforced many of the stereotypes of obedient Blacks obeying their wise masters. I agree someone that this wasnt very accurately portrayed in the book but I dont feel as though that was what Hurston was thinking about when she wrote the book. The majority of the book was filled with information about Janies three marriages to three very different men. It is the relationships she had with these three people which makes the story.

Janies first husband was Logan. Their marriage was an arrange one and wasnt a happy one for Janie. Although Logan was first attracted to her beauty he started to work her harder and treat her poorly. This shows that many men marry a women because she is beautiful but slowly become tired of her and her looks and moves on. Janie eventually runs away with someone else because she cant deal with it anymore. Many women are stuck in similar situations and many are forced to stay in that type of marriage for their whole life.

Her second husband Jody Starks was vastly different from Logan. Jody was a very smart a cunning many and originally treated Janie very well and she was happy to be around him. Their relationship also deteriorated with Jody became more wealthy and more demanding of her. This showcased another relationship that men and woman can get stuck into that can be very painful on the women. Women married to certain men are forced to behave a certain way even if that isnt how they feel. Jody dies and Janie is allowed to get on with her life. She had become a servant to him and I dont think she would have been able to get away on her own.

After a while Janie meets a man named Teacake. They fall in love and get married. Their relationship stayed a good one throughout and Hurston used this to show a possible way that men and women could live happily together. By respecting each other and letting each other behave as the they wanted to Janie and Teacake had a happy relationship. Teacake is bitten by a rabid dog and goes crazy and Janie ends up killing him. Although their relationship was happy Janie was able to kill him to save her own life.

Hurstons views of a happy marriage were very modern. Few people at the time thought a women should be able to express her feeling and be able to influence her husband. But Hurston showed that a man and a woman could live together in harmony if they were able to respect each other and not impose their expectations of the other person onto them.

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