Friday, February 27, 2009

Characterization of Janie- The Story Comes Full Circle

As the novel, Their Eyes are Watching God concludes, the story returns to where it first began. Janie is telling her story to one of her good friends, Pheoby Watson. After reading the final passages of the novel and rereading the first chapter, it is shown that Janie is portrayed as an independent and self-confident woman. She does not care what the porch sitters think about her and does not make a big deal upon her return to the town following the hurricane and Tea Cake’s death. She also is not affected by the assumptions that the community has made about her. After Janie returns from the Everglades and passes by the porch the sitters comment “What she doin coming back here en dem overhalls?-Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off wid?- Thought she was going to marry?- Where he left her?-What he done wid all her money?- Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs- Why she don’t stay in her class?” Although the community knows nothing about Janie and Tea Cakes relationship or experience, they judge her by her clothing and appearance when she returns home. They figure that Tea Cake has left Janie for another younger woman, when in actuality he has passed away. Pheoby tells Janie about the rumors of the porch sitters. After hearing Janie’s story, Pheoby becomes upset with the porch sitters and says “ Nobody better not criticize yuh in mah hearin” Differently than Pheoby, Janie ignores these rumors and tells Pheoby “Ah know all dem sitters-and-talkers gointuh worry they guts into fiddle strings till dey find out whut we been talking; bout. Dat’s alright, Pheoby, tell ‘em.” I think that this shows that Janie has finally come to understand herself and does not care what others think about her. She does not want to be shaped by the judgments of society as she used to be when she was younger.

The last piece of dialogue in the book is spoken by Janie who says “Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.” I found this quote to be somewhat transcendentalist. I also thought that it related to self-reliance by Emerson because Janie no longer relies on the opinions of society but rather relies on herself. Throughout the novel Janie tries to find out who she is in the world and with this quote, I think that she has shown that she has done that.

*The picture is of a kid in overalls looking at nature so i figured that kind of tied in to Janie at the end of the novel.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your perception of Janie at the end of the novel, and I really liked your connection to transcendentalism. when Janie was stuck in Eatonville, which was very proper and quaint, she couldn't be herself. But once she goes fishing with Tea Cake, and then moves to the Muck where civilization is more loose and the emphasis is on nature, she finds true happiness.