In the novel Their Eyes Were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, love and the main character’s personal development throughout the story plays a very important role. The protagonist, Janie Crawford, encounters three major relationships that will develop her own personal growth and independence. Each encounter, Janie will experience different problems and solutions that will better her to develop self-confidence. As the novel progresses, her relationships with Logan Killicks, Jody Starks, and Tea Cake develops her independence from a dependent and shy, flat character, to a round, strong character with a voice for herself.
Janie’s first relationship is with Logan Killicks. Nanny, being Janie’s Guardian, Nanny arranges a wedding for Janie because Nanny thinks that Logan is very respectful with a large amount of land, and will be able to support Janie. Janie never actually had a chance to speak her mind, but she follows Nanny’s advice because she doesn’t know what true love is. Janie stays with Logan for three months and she encounters some problems with Logan. During those three months, Janie is yelled at, beaten and even forced to work in the fields.
When Janie is beaten yelled at, and forced to do things she doesn’t want to do, she keeps quite and does everything Logan says. But one day, Janie spots a man named Jody Starks and she thinks she likes him. Janie has decided to leave Logan for Jody, and they both leave to Eatonville together. Janie’s first relationship is successful to her own personal growth because she starts to think for herself. Janie leaves Logan for Jody because Logan has been abusing Janie for about three months and she makes the right choice for herself to run away. Janie’s second relationship is with Jody Starks.
When Janie and Jody enter the town, they are greeted by the town calling Jody the Mayor. The town’s people eventually gather around Jody and Janie and Jody makes a speech. Janie is soon asked to make a speech but Janie is stopped by Jody. “Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh woman and her place is in de home,”Jody (Hurston Pg 43). This quote reveals to us a small impression of what Jody is going to be like throughout the story. He is showing a little bit of male dominance and silences Janie to keep her from saying anything unrelated.
Jody says that they are married, but they actually never get married. Throughout the story of the relationship with Jody is assumed that they are married. As Mayor, Jody plans to build a store and a post office. Jody forces Janie to work in the store and tie her hair in a rag. As Janie’s relationship with Jody moves on, we are able to see that her hair represents her own independence. Janie’s hair is long and beautiful but Jody is keeping her from showing it and by doing that, Janie gives up her independence to Jody. This also helps Janie in a way to find freedom to her own independence.
Janie begins to notice that Jody is very old and becomes very ill. Janie calls for a doctor and the doctor says that he will die soon. Janie takes this advantage to talk to him one last time. “…Ah ain’t gointuh hush. Naw, you gointuh listen tuh me one time befo’ you die…” Janie (Hurston pg 86). In this quote, we can tell that Janie has developed some independence and self-confidence to speak to Jody the way she does. In this relationship, she has developed her own voice to speak for herself and to stand up for herself like she did with Jody Janie’s third and last relationship is with Tea Cake.
Tea Cake treats Janie extremely different than Logan and Jody. “How about playin’ you some checkers? You looks hard tuh beat. ” Tea Cake (Hurston Pg 95). This quote from Tea Cake was a serious question. Tea Cake asked Janie to play checkers with her even though Janie says she doesn’t know how. Janie is really happy when she is playing because she never got to play before and by the way Tea Cake is treating Janie. Tea Cake respects her enough to let her do what she wants to do. “He set it up and began to show her and she found herself glowing inside. Somebody wanted her to play.
Somebody thought it natural for her to play. That was even nice. ” Narration (Hurston Pg 95). Janie begins to have feelings for Tea Cake but the feelings she has now are different from what she felt with Logan and Jody. “Tell yuh whut, Janie, less buy us some shootin’ tools and go huntin’ roud heah. ” “Dat would be gind, Tea Cake, exceptin’ you know Ah can’t shoot. But Ah’d love tuh go wid you. ” Janie (Hurston Pg 130). This quote really shows us how Tea Cake is different from other men because of what he does for Janie. When Tea Cake shoots, Janie asks if she could also shoot and Tea Cake lets her.
At this point, Janie has really developed her self-independence and her own voice. She is able to speak for herself and do the things she wants to do around Tea Cake because he is able to accept it. Her relationship with Tea Cake is significant to her personal growth because in the beginning of the novel, Janie had no voice and was being abused. As the novel progresses, her independence and self-confidence develops more that helps her find her own independence with Tea Cake. Tea Cake gave Janie options to choose from and letting her do the things she wants to do.
Tea Cake makes Janie create her own independence, develops her self-confidence and experience true love with Tea Cake. These sequences of relationships relate to Janie’s personal growth and development because of the different problems Janie encounters. Her first relationship with Logan begins with a small development of Janie thinking on her own. She ran away from Logan because of the harsh treatment Janie is getting from Logan. By leaving Logan, her independence and self-confidence begins from that point. As Janie builds her relationship with Jody, it turns out that Jody is worse than Logan.
Janie develops her own voice to speak for herself and has gained some independence to think for herself instead of relying on others after being with Jody. Janie found her true love after being with Tea Cake. Tea Cake respects her and let her do the things she wanted to do. This relationship is significant to Janie because she finds her true love, and strengthens her independence when Janie is with Tea Cake. After these sequences of relationships, we can see that Janie has become a flat character, to a round character and is a self dependent woman with a voice of her own to speak whenever she wants.