Compare Nanny's voice (or lack of it) to Janie's sense of voice at the beginning and ending of the novel. What has been achieved? At what cost?
Zora Neal Hurston does an excellent job of bookending this novel, which makes looking at the characters as they appear in the beginning and end, Janie in particular, a valuable method of analysis. The main theme of the work is Janie's search for a voice. In the beginning, she embarks on an arranged marriage to a much older man. At this point, she has no voice, but it becomes quickly evident that she will not allow herself to live her life this way. He second marriage provides her with the tools that she needs, as well as the financial freedom, to become independent and to have a voice, but it is not until she meets and falls in love with Tea Cake and they finally embark together on a journey of self determination that Janie truly comes to understand what her individual voice truly is. When she is forced to shoot Tea Cake, the cost is immense, for she has not only lost the man she truly loved but he has died at her hand. The subsequent charge of murder serves to show that societal perceptions of reality are not always accurate, but it also provides Janie with a time in which she can reflect and redirect. In the end, she finds the strength to maintain her voice in spite of what anyone else says or things, evidencing her true coming of strength and power both as a woman and as a human being.