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Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

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Discussion Topic

Janie's romantic relationships in Their Eyes Were Watching God

Summary:

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie's romantic relationships are central to her journey of self-discovery. She experiences three key relationships: with Logan Killicks, Joe Starks, and Tea Cake. Each relationship teaches her different lessons about love, independence, and her own identity, ultimately leading her to a deeper understanding of herself and her desires.

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Who does Janie kiss over the fence in Their Eyes Were Watching God?

In chapter 2 of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie kisses Johnny Taylor over the fence. One spring day when Janie is still a young girl, she is under a pear tree in the yard. A boy from the neighborhood named Johnny Taylor walks by. Like most people in the neighborhood, Janie thinks that Johnny Taylor is a lazy boy. But when he starts talking to her over the fence, she engages in conversation with him. Then Johnny kisses her, which marks her first kiss and a pivotal moment in her life.

Nanny, Janie’s grandmother, had been sleeping when Janie went out to the tree, but she witnessed the kiss with Johnny. Nanny views this as an important moment because she feels it is proof that Janie is now reaching the age of sexual maturity. The fact that the moment occurred under the pear tree is also important because it symbolizes how the kiss with Johnny means that Janie's sexuality is blossoming.

The event leads to an emotional conversation between Janie and her grandmother. Janie thinks that the kiss was just an innocent thing that happened, but Nanny explains that it means so much more and that it is time for her to explain to Janie some important things about life.

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Who did Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God marry?

Janie's first husband is Logan Killicks. Logan is an old, successful farmer, whom Nancy considers physically unattractive and untidy. Little is known about his personality aside from the fact that he seems to like routine and likes to have control. The only reason why he marries Janie is to have help around the farm, as he believes that that's what marriage is all about— women are supposed to assist men. Janie, on the other hand, wants someone who will love and cherish her and won't command her around; she marries Logan hoping that this will be the case, and once she sees that it isn't, she leaves him for a man named Joe Starks.

Joe "Jody" Starks is Janie's second husband. He's a very charming, charismatic, and wealthy businessman; however, he is also arrogant, vain, possessive, jealous, assertive, and controlling. He marries Janie for her beauty and her youth so that he can "show her off." He's even more sexist and misogynistic than Logan, as he objectifies women and believes that all they have to do is stand quietly and obediently beside their husbands and "look pretty." He dies from kidney failure, and on his deathbed, Janie tells him that she fell out of love with him a long time ago due to his selfishness and horrible behavior. Joe still belittles her and refuses to listen to her, and he dies hoping that she will suffer and die as well.

Finally, Janie marries Vergible Woods, also known as Tea Cake. Unlike her previous husbands, Tea Cake treats Janie like an actual human being; he sees her as someone who is equal to him, and he gives her a lot of love and affection. He's also younger and more attractive, as well as kinder and more intelligent than her previous partners. Tea Cake loves to have deep, meaningful conversations with Janie and enjoys her company. Janie falls deeply in love with him and hopes that their marriage will be a long and happy one. Unfortunately, Tea Cake gets bitten by a rabid dog and catches rabies. He slowly begins to lose his mind and even tries to kill Janie with a gun; however, Janie is faster and shoots him before he can harm her. He dies in her arms, but not before biting her. Hurston doesn't reveal whether Janie dies or not, but many agree that Janie does eventually die as a result of the disease that her husband gave her when he bit her arm.

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