In Their Eyes Were Watching God, describe the types of love Janie experiences and which one had the most impact on her?

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pearlepratt eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Janie’s first experiences with love were with Johnny Taylor, whom she kisses. Janie’s kissed Johnny in reaction to her budding sexuality. She had been curiously observing the process of sexual readiness and reproduction as evidenced in the natural environment. She neither loved Johnny Taylor nor aspired to become his wife. Instead, she simply wanted to satisfy her curiosity and to indulge in an impulsive desire.

 After discovering Janie’s caprice with Johnny Taylor, her grandmother, Nanny, arranges a marriage for her. Janie’s marriage to Logan Killicks represents her second experience with love. Logan, who is much older than Janie, is a land-owner who is considered prosperous by many. He is able to offer Janie a degree of economic stability and financial security. Yet, their marriage is lifeless and she does not love him. Consequently, she runs away with Joe Starks, who appeals to her romantic nature.

 Janie abandons Logan Killicks for Joe Starks because Joe offers her glimpses of a dream life, filled with delicacies. He promises her prominence and influence. However, she realizes that the only role that she plays in his dream is that of a trophy wife. Her physical appearance corresponds to his image of a mayor’s wife. His love for her is superficial and it is only after his death that she discovers a true love. 

Janie’s love for Tea Cake is genuine and true. She does not look to him for financial security or social status. While she is physically attracted to him, her desire stems from love and affection rather than simple physical yearning. She simply loves the man rather than his possessions or his prominence. She wants nothing from him except to him and to be loved by him. This is the love that most impacts and shapes her life.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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