Simmons gives a testimony… read full character analysis Minor Characters Johnny Taylor Johnny Taylor is the first person to kiss and be kissed by Janie at the age of sixteen, following her moment of sexual awakening under the pear tree.
Historical context[ edit ] Racial climate in the early s[ edit ] With legislation like the Jim Crow lawsenacted from tomany African-Americans were disfranchised. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan terrorized black citizens, leading to the steady decline of African-American political representation.
Tenant farming and sharecropping systems constituted the de facto re-enslavement of African Americans in the South, where Hurston's novel is based. Baptist preacher Thomas Dixon, Jr. A Romance of the White Man's Burden inasserting white supremacy amidst supposed African-American evil and corruption.
The book was so popular that Dixon wrote a trilogy. His second novel, The Clansmanwas adapted for the silent film The Birth of a Nationportraying African-American men in an unintelligent, sexually aggressive light The renaissance was meant to be a liberating response to the restrictive standards of the Racial Uplift program, encouraging writers and artists to expose racist oppression in American society.
In an essay by Nick Aaron Ford, Hurston is quoted to have to said, "Many Negroes criticise my book, because I did not make it a lecture on the race problem. I am interested in you now, not as a Negro man but as a man.
I am not interested in the race problem, but I am interested in the problems of individuals, white ones and black ones. Hurston viewed her work as distinct from the work of fellow Harlem Renaissance writers she described as the "sobbing school of Negrohood" that portrayed the lives of black people as constantly miserable, downtrodden and deprived.
In addition, Hurston refused to censor women's sexuality, writing in beautiful innuendo to embrace the physical dimension of her main character's romances.
Completely rejecting the Uplift agenda, the magazine also included homoerotic work as well as portrayals of prostitution.
Readers receive the story of her life in three major periods corresponding to her marriages to three very different men. The flashback in the book begins with Janie's sexual awakening which she compares to a pear blossom in spring.
Not long after, Janie allows a local boy, Johnny Taylor, to kiss her, which Janie's grandmother, Nanny, witnesses. Nanny is an elderly woman who, as a slave, was raped by her owner and gave birth to a mixed-race daughter Leafy. Nanny escaped from her jealous mistress and found a good home after the end of the American Civil War.
Nanny tried to create a good life for her daughter, but Leafy was raped by her school teacher and became pregnant with Janie. Shortly after Janie's birth, Leafy began to drink and stay out at night.
Eventually, she ran away, leaving her daughter Janie with Nanny. Nanny, afraid Janie's life may follow Leafy's or her own, transfers all the hopes she had for Leafy to Janie and arranges for Janie to marry Logan Killicks, an older farmer looking for a wife. Although Janie is not interested in either Logan or marriage, her grandmother wants her to have the stability she never had; legal marriage to Killicks, Nanny believes, will give Janie opportunities.
Nanny feels that Janie will be unable to take care of herself, so she must marry a man who will take care of her. Janie's image of the pear tree causes her to imagine that marriage must involve love—in Janie's pear tree scene, she sees bees pollinating a pear tree and believes that marriage is the human equivalent to this natural process.
However, Killicks wants a domestic helper rather than a lover or partner; he thinks Janie does not do enough around the farm and that she is ungrateful.
Janie speaks to Nanny about how she feels, but Nanny, too, accuses her of being spoiled. And so, Janie's idea of the pear tree is tarnished.
Soon afterward, Nanny dies. Unhappy, disillusioned, and lonely, Janie chooses to leave Killicks and runs off with the glib Jody Joe Starks, who takes her to EatonvilleFlorida.
Finding the small town residents unambitious, Starks arranges to buy more land, establishes a general store which he has built by local residents, and is soon elected as mayor of the town. Janie soon realises that Starks wants her as a trophy wifeto reinforce his powerful position in town.
He asks her to run the store, but forbids her from participating in the substantial social life that occurs on the store's front porch. He treats her as his property, controlling what she wears and says, and criticizes her mistakes. He also begins to strike her occasionally.
As time passes, he teases her in public about being old, even though she is only in her thirties. Eventually, she cannot bear it and snaps back at Joe to look at himself. Starks hits her as hard as he can.
Later, he gets sick, and refuses to let Janie see him.
He does not realize that he has a failing kidney, a likely fatal illness. When Janie learns that he might die, she goes to talk to him. She tells him who she really is and says that he never knew because he would not let her be free.
After Starks dies, Janie becomes financially independent through his estate. She is beset with suitors, some of whom are men of some means or have prestigious occupations, and all of whom she turns down.Find THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD at attheheels.com Movies & TV, home of thousands of titles on DVD and Blu-ray.
Their Eyes Were Watching God Homework Help Questions What is the main theme or message of the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God? Zora Neale Hurston's underlying theme of self-expression and independence is one that is startling for its day.
Tea Cake doesn’t try to tame or stifle Janie’s nature; he even encourages her to try new things, like checkers and hunting. The secret to Janie and Tea Cake’s marriage is their communication with each other; they talk out their troubles and constantly reassure each other of their love.
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