Their Eyes Were Watching God - Tankesley Lauren Tankesley...

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Tankesley Lauren Tankesley Professor Newton English 2130 November 12, 2006 True Identity A person’s point of origin and identity are the two main components with which she makes herself human. In Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God , Janie Mae Crawford, the main character, must develop her personal identity as well as fight the “black women are the mules of the world” stereotype. She never comes to know who her mother is, and not knowing her mother personally leaves her with a lack of true feminine self identity. Her grandmother, Nanny, raises her and begins the trail of unsuccessful husbands by arranging a marriage with Janie’s first husband, Logan Killicks, without her consent. Throughout the novel, her identity is three things: her husband’s wife and nothing more important, a mule, and a servant. Each of her husbands set down understood characteristics for Janie to adopt that are not her own. These fabricated traits she conforms to restrict her true identity from emerging. She struggles with societal measures and stereotypes while her true self is suppressed until she meets Tea Cake, the one man with whom she falls in love. Janie marries three men during the course of the novel; Logan Killicks, Joe Starks, and Vergible Woods (more commonly known as Tea Cake). Although these men vary in social rank, they are alike in that they treat Janie like a piece of property and a slave. She becomes a mere status symbol to each of them because she is an attractive woman. The first two men she marries treat her like an overseer would treat a slave, so 1
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Tankesley her identity for the majority of the novel is that of a submissive woman. At first, each of her husbands treats her very kindly and in a sense put her on a pedestal; however, as their relationship with Janie progresses, the husbands begin to deal with her almost like a slave or servant by ordering her around and hiding her from the community. Initially, the husbands are caring and sweet, but after the poison of ownership sets in, Killicks and Starks treat her badly.
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