In Their Eyes Were Watching God, what does Janie learn from each man in her life?Many readers consider the novel a coming-of-age novel, as Janie journeys through three marriages.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, the protagonist Janie has three husbands who are all very different from one another. Janie is not at all attracted to her first husband Logan Killicks; she is forced to marry Logan by her grandmother who thinks that Logan will provide a good life for Janie. Janie goes off with him, but she is bored by Logan's ways and feels confined by his rules. As a result, she leaves him and runs off with Joe Starks because he is exciting, and Janie feels like she will have an adventure with him. She soon realizes, however, that Joe is incredibly controlling and he begins to treat her like she is his property. Joe becomes harsh and abusive and kills Janie's spirit through the role that he expects her to play in life. Janie does not have to leave him because he dies later on in their marriage. Janie then meets Tea Cake and is happy with him because he treats her like an equal. Tea Cake is not afraid to openly express his love for Janie. He, however, is bitten by a rabid dog and himself goes mad, causing Janie to kill him in self-defense.
From each man, Janie learns new things about herself and her identity. In the beginning with Logan, she learns that she needs adventure in her life to cultivate her young spirit. Thinking that she will get this with Joe, Janie has a hard time accepting that Joe wants other things in life and Janie tries to negotiate Joe's wants with her own desires. Her spirit is rekindled with Tea Cake and after his death Janie is comfortable continuing on her own.