Topic: Janie’s Relationship to the Black Communities in:Their Eyes Were Watching God.
The following essay will examine the relationship between Janie and the three different black communities in Zora Neale Hurston’s novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” In this story the reader is confronted with the protagonist Janie who searches for the one and true love and therefore marries three completely different types of men. Two of her husbands also influence the relationship to the other black people living around her.
First of all the relationship between the protagonist and the community where she grew up shall be examined, then between her as the wife of the mayor Joe Starks and the people living in Eatonville and at last the relationship to society in the Everglades where Janie lived and worked together with her third husband, Tea Cake.
The relationship to the community where Janie grew up is good at the beginning but then turns into being bad as she is treated like an “outsider” by the other children at school. Janie has to be raised by her grandmother (Hurston: 8) because her mother ran away and has to live in “de white folk’s back-yard” (Hurston: 9). Moreover, Janie has got white features as her father was a white teacher who raped Janie’s mother (Hurston: 19). At first all of them played together and she […] ”was wid dem white chillun so much” […] (Hurston: 8) and everything seemed fine. However, after a while […] “de chillun at school got to teasin’” […] (Hurston: 9) her because she and her grandmother lived in this back-yard. She is not treated like an equal human being but like a person who is inferior to the others. In this situation she feels that she does not have the same rights and opportunities as the others. Moreover a girl called Mayrella […] “useter git mad every time she look at” […] (Hurston: 9) her and treated Janie very badly as she wore typical “white clothes” receiving from Mis’ Washburn, the white woman where she lived. Mayrella goaded the other kids into picking at Janie and so they pushed her […] “’way from de ring plays and make out they couldn’t play wid nobody dat lived on premises” (Hurston: 9). At the age of sixteen, Janie is married by her grandmother to “Brother Logan Killicks”, who is said to be “a good man” (Hurston: 13) but this is not the marriage the girl is dreaming of and so one day she runs away with Joe Starks who becomes her second husband.