In Their Eyes Were Watching God, what are differences between Janie's three husbands?

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copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The greatest differences in Janie's three husbands are the ways in which they relate to other human beings and the way they view and treat Janie.

Logan sees people as providers of goods and services. His interest in and marriage to Janie is solely for the purpose of completing his farm work. He isn't interested in her, only in her ability to work.

Joe Starks sees people as an opportunity to exert himself and his own self-worth. They are an audience for his "big voice." Janie, too, is just one more member of that audience to manipulate, one more way to expand his own power.

Tea Cake finds value and self-worth in working with and for others. He isn't materialistic like Joe or Logan, but rather finds satisfaction in bringing joy to others.

However, each of Janie's three relationships helps her to grow into the self-actualized woman whom we meet as she walks back into the town of Eatonville in Chapter 1 and endures the questions and gossip thrown at her by the porchtalkers.

From Logan, Janie learns that love and marriage cannot just be arranged and suddenly happen as her grandmother believes and that, alternately, one must work and devote a great deal of attentionĀ to make a happy marriage.

With Joe, Janie has her first opportunity to apply the lessons she has learned from Logan. Unfortunately, Joe is far more interested in his own "big voice" to ever take the time to listen to Janie's wishes and aspirations. From this, Janie learns that in order to build a happy marriage, both individuals must stand on equal footing and be willing to sacrifice for the other.

It is with Tea Cake that Janie finally realizes her "love dream." In this relationship, Janie and Tea Cake treat each other as equals, they listen to one another and treat one another as equal partners. It is through this relationship that Janie becomes self-actualized and--although this last relationship ends tragically--is able to fully live her own life.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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