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...

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?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie undergoes change and character growth as she moves through her two marriages.

First of all, her first marriage to Logan Killicks is one born out of Nanny's desire for Janie to have a secure life; it is not a relationship born from love. Logan owns sixty acres and has a farm. In Nanny's eyes, that is all Janie needs. At the beginning, Logan treats Janie with respect. Janie can function in the loveless marriage until Logan begins to belittle Janie and expects her to work like a hired hand bringing in wood: “If Ah kin haul de sood heah and chop it fuh yuh, look lak you oughta be able tuh tote it inside” (Hurston 26). The relationship continues to deteriorate until Janie is sick of being married to a man she considers old and unattractive.

When she meets Joe Sparks, she sees her chance for escape from a life of boredom and a chance for love. Joe has charm and status. He also treats her better than Logan; she is no longer a lowly farmer's wife. However, this relationship also begins to deteriorate when Joe treats her as a possession. Joe is the Mayor of Eatonville and expects Janie to follow his rules just as the people in the township. Their relationship is one where Joe holds all the power, and Janie is used to convey status to others. Even though Janie feels trapped with Joe, she stays with him until his death.

It is not until Janie meets Tea Cake that she finally finds true love. Janie has suffered through two marriages where she did not have a voice; that is, she was not her own person. In the last relationship she grows as an individual and as a woman.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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