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Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

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What are three major ways Janie Crawford changes in Their Eyes Were Watching God?

Three major ways in which Janie Crawford changes in Their Eyes Were Watching God are that she develops self-confidence, learns to care for others, and becomes independent.

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Janie Crawford changes in a number of important ways throughout the story. First and foremost, she becomes more independent. At the beginning of the story, it's fair to say that Janie has something of an identity crisis; she doesn't really know who she is.

But when she returns to Eatonville, she's a completely different person. What hasn't killed her has made her stronger, and now she is a proud, independent woman with the strength to stand up for herself.

It has not been an easy journey. Janie has had to endure a lot of sorrow and suffering along the way. However, she's learned from all of her experiences—good and bad—and so has become much wiser as a result.

With that wisdom has come a realization of what's really important in life. Back when she got married to Jody Starks, Janie confused happiness with sexual satisfaction. As a result, she quickly became disillusioned when Jody started treating her badly. Even so, Janie was still able to derive something positive from this experience—learning how to run a store by herself. This made her more independent.

Janie has also changed in that she's now better able to stand up for herself. We see this when she shoots the rabid Tea Cake in order to save her own life. What Janie learns from this traumatic experience more than anything else is that she needs to be strong in order to survive in a world where the rules have not been made for or by people like herself.

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Through a long process of maturing in Their Eyes Were Watching God, the protagonist Janie Crawford gains self-confidence as she grows from an immature adolescent into a middle-aged woman. Along the way, through being married three times to three very different men, she learns to take care of other people as well as herself. Finally, after she buries her last, and deeply beloved, husband, Tea Cake, Janie learns how to live independently rather than as part of a married couple.

When the teenage Janie begins to think of taking independent actions, her grandmother puts a stop to such desires by insisting that she marry a much older man. Both in Nanny’s household and while married to Logan, Janie becomes accustomed to serving the older generation but resents this enforced dependency.

Janie imagines that by running off with Joe “Jody” Starks and starting a new life in a new community, she will find fulfillment. She mixes up sexual desire with overall happiness and satisfaction. Unprepared for Jody’s selfishness, belittling, and jealousy, Janie’s resentment grows. Ironically, it is through caring for Jody in his final illness that she learns how generosity and compassion contribute to her fulfillment.

Although Janie’s last marriage, to Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods, is truly happy, that happiness is partly based on the heavy value she places on being part of a couple. She does not part from Tea Cake willingly, but finds herself in the horrible position of seeing no choice...

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but to kill him when rabies makes him deranged. After this tragic incident, in part because she had experienced the marriage she wanted, she no longer believes that she requires a partner to be complete. She returns to Eatonville to live as an independent woman.

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Three major changes that Janie goes through in Their Eyes Were Watching God are that (1) she fits in with a community, (2) learns to do previously gender-restricted activities, and (3) acts with courage on her own behalf. In her marriage to Joe (Jody) Starks, she played a role as mayors wife and as such had to adopt a public persona that replaced her real personality and self while her civic position shut her off from socializing freely with the rest of the community. When she marries Tea Cake (Virgible Woods) and returns with him to his home town, she makes a place for herself in the community, whcih welcomes her.

While married to Jody, Janie was restricted by her female gender from participating in or learning to fish or hunt. Jody would go on trips and leave Janie behind because she was a woman. In contrast, Tea Cake not only takes Janie with him, he teaches her to hunt and fish on her own.

At the end of their time together, Tea Cake contracted rabies, which is fatal if allowed to progress in its course of development. Tea Cake didn't know he had gotten rabies until it was too late for treatment. When he goes mad from the rabies (its near-final stage) and tries to kill Janie, she has to decide to act with courage to save herself. She uses the skill Tea Cake has taught her and shoots him to save herself, thus fully liberating her still partially suppressed self, giving her her greatest change: She becomes fully herself and independent.

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How does Janie change throughout the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God?

By the end of Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, main character Janie Crawford has finally found a measure of peace and happiness, qualities she has been searching for her whole life.

Janie struggles to find contentment throughout her life. She has some as a little girl when she is still ignorant of race and able to play innocently with all children. When she becomes aware of her race, however, things begin to change, and when Janie awakens sexually, her life takes a turn for the worse. Her grandmother marries Janie to Logan Killicks, who beats her and treats her like a slave.

Janie leaves Logan for Joe Starks, and for a while, she is happy. But then Joe changes as he becomes the mayor of their small town and begins to abuse Janie. Joe dies, and Janie enjoys being free for a while. Then she falls in love with a young man named Tea Cake and runs away to marry him. Life is still far from perfect for Janie, because Tea Cake is a drinker and a gambler, and he beats Janie sometimes. The couple manages to survive a hurricane, but Tea Cake contracts rabies. Janie eventually has to kill him in self defense.

Janie then returns to her childhood home, where she tells her story to a friend and finally comes to terms with her life. She declares that she has learned how to go to God and how to live for herself and that now she is truly happy.

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