In Their Eyes

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade May 2001

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At a point in many people's lives, their souls surface, creating individuals. Some people allow themselves to live by their soul's will and some people become introverted and live by the dictation of others. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie realizes that it is unrealistic to live through emotions and dreams while living with others and can only allow her soul to emerge when she is finished living her husbands' lives.

After making love to one of the local boys, Janie is excited about her future. She stands at Nanny's gate, "looking, waiting, breathing short with impatience. Waiting for the world to be made" (11). Janie is bright-eyed as she takes her first steps into womanhood. Janie's first love makes no promises. Her dreams come from within and with the lack of conversation between her and her lover, there is no reason for her to doubt life. She does not have to support the life of another or ask for their support.

Her soul can run free in her dreams. Unfortunately, when Nanny finds out about Janie's affair, Nanny cuts the affair short and Janie is force to marry Logan Killick. She enters marriage with high hopes that soon drop. "She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman" (24). Janie's marriage to Logan teaches her that love is not a necessity to perform a marriage ceremony and she finds that she has to deal with the fact that there will never be love in their companionship. Logan keeps Janie in what he thinks a woman's place is during their marriage. Janie's job is to do what Logan wants which gives her no time to dream. The lack of emotion between the two predicts a break-up in the near future.

Janie's second marriage begins with her infatuation with Joe Stark's good looks and money. She leaves Logan's low class living for a life of high class and power as the wife of a mayor. After being emotionally and physically abused by Joe, Janie finally she see the true picture. "She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered" (67). Joe is no longer the high and mighty man that she was infatuated with, he is just as common as Nanny, her mother, and Logan, and she can no longer live off her fantasy. Soon, Joe dies and Janie mus tell Eatonville. "She starched and ironed her face, forming it into just what the people wanted to see" (83). Janie does not feel sadness and grief over Joe's death but she has to display the emotions that he would want her to have, what he expected because he lived by the people. He always had to look the best in front of the town. This was her last respects to Joe even though she found that there was no true love between them.

Janie was soulless for two of her marriages, but her emotions do come back, only to serve another person. After the death of Joe, Janie meets her soul mate, who brings the emotions she never had to use while married to Logan or Joe. Soon after meeting Tea Cake, she spends her first night with him and she is feeling something new and exciting. "Doubt. All the fears that circumstance could provide and the heart feel, attacked her every side" (103). Her emotions were muted for so long and now they all come flooding in at once, overwheming her. But they are not emotions for herself, but for Tea Cake. She loves him and not herself. When Tea Cake comes back from a bar wounded, "Janie looked down on him and felt self-crushing love" (122). Janie's entire self is being pushed away to make room for the emotions needed for Tea Cake. Though love is a good thing, Janie is putting herself second to someone else. In Janie's realization that she truly loves Tea Cake, "her soul crawled out from its hiding place" (122). Now that her soul has returned, she is able to become what Tea Cake wants her to be, free and unique, while also an object to show off abd to receive love from. Finally, after the death of Tea Cake to rabies, Janie finds her inner peace. "Here was peace. She called in her soul to come and see" (184). Janie finds that to truly live by her soul, she must live on her own. She does not call her friends to see peace, but her soul that was hidden for years by the force of being a robot to three husbands. She is now able to shine as the beautiful individual self that she is.

Janie's soul left her to face reality and deal with life without dreams. Janie went through everything that everyone else's lives pushed her through. Janie is now able to look onto her own life. "Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches" (8). Janie is only truly free when there is no one left to control the way she lives.