What is the attitude of Logan, Joe, and Tea Cake towards money, and of Janie speaking out in Their Eyes are Watching God?

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James Kelley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question is good. It's possible to tell a lot about people (whether characters in a novel or in real life) by how they view money and how they treat other people. Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God certainly does a great job depicting several different male characters, highlighting their differences by focusing on how they treat Janie, the story's main character.

To get you started (I hope that other posters will chime in, too), I'd like to offer a quick contrast between Joe and Tea Cake. Joe sees money as a means to power, just as he builds the all-black town of Eatonville so that he can be its leader and ruler. He also treats his wife Janie much like his money; her purpose, he believes, is to serve her silently. He's not interested in hearing her talk (e.g. he gives a speech to the assembled townspeople but prevents her from delivering a speech of her own). He's also possessiveĀ of her just as it he is of his wealth. He makes Janie keep her hair covered, for example, so that other men can't share in the wealth that is her beauty.

Tea Cake is quite the opposite. He's much less responsible with money and much less obsessed by it. He's better at making money through gambling than he is through long-term investments, like building a town. He's also much more open in terms of how he would like to see Janie act. He teaches her to play checkers, to shoot a rifle, and so on, and doesn't seek to control her expressions (including her speech) in the way that Joe does.

Before I stop, let me add that you may be able to characterize Logan's attitudes on your own. For example, you may want to think about what prompts Janie to leave with Joe in the first place. What about him is different from Logan?

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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