Wednesday, February 25, 2009

God's Role

Just the title of the book alone suggests that God plays an important role in the novel. As the book progresses, this idea of God is repeated often. It is especially emphasized as the book nears the end. The first line that caught my eye was "six eyes were questioning God" (159). This line appears when the storm is beginning. Everyone is panicking and worried about the hurricane. They are questioning God because God is supposedly the one who created the storm. It is important to note that they are "questioning" God. Later, it says "They seemed to be starring in the dark, but their eyes were watching God" (160). Here, Hurston uses the word "watching" instead. There is a difference between questioning and watching. When one questions, one is usually skeptical. When the six eyes question God they are most likely questioning why this storm is coming and if there is a reason. They know it will be destructive, so is it possible God has a reason for bringing it? Later, tough, they are simply watching God. At this time they have no choice but to watch and see what God does. They cannot control the storm, so they can only hope and watch it pass.

This relates to how Janie sees her life. At first she is independent and a somewhat strong women, especially for her time. She wants to choose who she marries and even leaves her first husband. At this time in history this is unusual and shows that Janie is extremely independent. This is the time when she is questioning God. She is skeptical of Him, and still believes that she has control over her life. As the novel progresses I saw a change in Janie. She began to be less independent, especially once she married Tea Cake. Tea Cake treats her better than her other two husbands, but he still has control within their marriage. As the novel continues Janie stops questioning God and starts watching Him instead. She begins to think that she does not have control over her life; after the storm and Tea Cake dies she is lead to believe that everything is up to God. All she can do is watch.

Although these are the main points where I saw God make an appearance in the novel, there are certainly many more. Janie says multiple times in the novel that people go once it is their time. This again is up to God, and is certaintly seen with Joe and Tea Cake's death. Also, when Janie testifies at court after shooting Tea Cake she must "swear to speak the truth and nothing but the truth. So help her God" (187). Throughout the novel there are many points in which God is mentioned, not just in the title.

1 comment:

  1. I guess what Hurston is saying is that sometimes God is just more powerful than whatever Man does or can do. Although this story is about Janie, a lot of things that Janie went through did not come out of her own actions. For example, Joe died of a mysterious liver disease that came out of nowhere. Then Tea Cakes died, even though Janie would pray for hours for him to be all right.

    I guess in the end, God is just more powerful than us humans.