Describe and analyze
1.) Janie’s relationship with Logan Killicks, and
2.) Janie’s relationship with Joe Starks.
How do these relationships shape Janie's character in Their Eyes Were Watching God?
One interpretation of Janie Crawford is that her growth as a character is closely related to her ability as a master storyteller. With Killicks, she has no voice; with Joe Starks, her voice is very limited, but with Tea Cake, Janie's own voice emerges and she joins with him as a master storyteller. This emergence of Janie as storyteller parallels her coming into being as a woman.
1. With Logan Killicks, an older man,Granny arranges marriage for Janie after having spotted Johnny Taylor "lacerating her Janie with a kiss." Wishing to protect Janie from those who would exploit her, Granny wants her granddaughter, "safe in life."
"You ain't got nobody but me. And mah head is ole and tilted towards de grave. Neither can you stand alone by yo'self....Ah got tuh try and do for you befo' mah head is cold."
2. When Janie meets Joe Starks coming up the road, and he tells her of his ambitions; perceiving that Janie is dissatisfied with her life and wishing to be influenced, Starks leads Janie along with him. However, Joe is yet another dominating man who traps Janie in life. Once he owns his store, Joe has Janie "dress up and stand in the store all...evening" one night. "She must look on herself as the bell-cow, the other women were the gang."
Joe refuses to allow Janie a voice. When the townspeople ask her to speak after he is made mayor, Starks says,
...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.
Further, because other men look at her with desire, Joe makes Janie cover her beautiful hair while she works in the store, which "kept her with a sick headache." Repressed, Janie again finds herself wishing for more in her life. somewhere to "laugh and play," not to be a possession on display.
Both her relationships with Logan Killicks and Joe Starks are confining. While they offer Janie financial protection, she desires independence. Janie never feels any sense of self in her marriages to these men; she is simply a wife to work or to be ornamentation, never to be a storyteller.