Equality and Inequality in Their Eyes Were Watching God
In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, the author, Zora Neale Hurston, attempts to bring into light problems caused by prejudice. However, as she tries to show examples of inequality through various character relationships, examples of equality are revealed through other relationships. Janie, the novel's main character, encounters both inequality and equality through the treatment she receives during her three marriages.
Janie's first marriage is to Logan Killicks. Logan enters the marriage with a large portion of land. However, Janie enters the marriage with practically nothing. This ends up becoming a relationship based on inequality because Logan starts to use his ownership of the land to control Janie. He tries to make her feel that she owes him for part of the land, which he is sharing with her. What begins as a relationship in which Logan struggles to make Janie happy, turns into a relationship in which Janie is expected to make Logan happy. She is often reprimanded for not doing enough work or for not working in certain areas such as the fields.
It is during that unhappy marriage that Janie meets Jody Stark, who comes along with dreams of power, wealth, and happiness. " De day you puts yo' hand in mine, Ah wouldn't let de sun go down on us single. Ah'm a man wid principles. You ain't never knowed what it was like to be treated lak a lady and Ah wants to be de one tuh show yuh." (Pg.28) Janie is promised that she will be treated quite well. So naturally, she leaves Logan and sets out for a new town with Jody. This relationship can be classified as equal in some aspects. However, for the most part, this too becomes a marriage based on inequality. Joe gains the power he wanted and Janie gains part of the wealth and fame associated with his power. Therefore, both Joe and Janie are looked up to by the townspeople. To some extent, this could be considered a form of equality. Unfortunately, this is about where the equality stops. While Joe gains prominence through his own actions and words, Janie gains some prominence by doing what she is told to do. She is not permitted to voice her own opinions or join in the lighthearted gossiping which occurs outside of their store. Janie is expected to be the dutiful wife. If she makes a mistake, then she should have known better and therefore should accept her punishment quietly. Joe holds the obvious upper hand in the relationship until his death whereupon Janie inherits a large amount of money and learns to enjoy the freedom of living as her own person.
Then Janie meets Tea Cake. Their courtship and marriage involve many different forms of equality which are not seen in Janie's past relationships. The equalities exhibited include Tea Cake and Janie's equality to one another as persons, and equality in "age," love, and money.
As two different people, Janie and Tea Cake are allowed to live their lives as...