Thursday, February 26, 2009

Silence Speaks Louder Than Words...

Throughout the second half of the novel, Janie, who once spoke her mind about whatever she wished, grows quieter. This is not apparant all the time, for she still speaks constantly. However, it is as if she has chosen to sensor herself. She has mastered her impulse to speak her mind, no matter what the consequences. You might think that this is a sign of weakness, but I find it as a sign of strength. It takes a great deal of self control to remain silent at the times when you most want to speak your mind. Janie, unsatisfied with the way that she is dominated by the men in her life, found a way to convey her power through her silence.

This is shown in chapter 17, when Janie is being beaten by a jealous Tea Cake. Tea Cake beats Janie as if to show her that she belongs to him. If this had happened earlier in the novel, Janie probably would have been very angry and spoke out against Tea Cake. However, Janie takes the beating silently and does not hold a grudge against Tea Cake. In this way, Janie is showing her power over Tea Cake. She is silently conveying that it does not affect her to be beaten down, that she is strong enough to bear the pain. This way of asserting her power, is much more powerful than a sulky complaint would have been. Janie took the beating like a man, proving to Tea Cake that she is stronger than ever. In this way, Janie has become more powerful. She does not use meaningless words to try to prove her power. Rather, she uses silence as if to show how strong she really is.


  1. Yesssssss. This is what I was talking about in my post about Tea Cake's treatment toward Janie and how she stopped speaking out. She kept quiet whenever Tea Cake did something questionable. However, our views differ because I feel as if she does this to ensure that he does not think badly of her. She wants to maintain the relationship so bad she will not confront him if it will hurt his feelings. I feel Janie has weakened with her relationship with Tea Cake and she is more subservient towards him. She feels safe and secure with him and does not feel the need to prove her strength.

  2. I sort of disagree. From your post it seems like you're saying Janie is being silent on purpose to show her strength. However, I think she doesn't say anything because she truly believes nothing is wrong. I think she is blinded by love and can not see an obviously unjustified action. If you look at one of Tien's post you can see more on what I think.

  3. Good observation. It's an interesting comparison to her previous marriage with Joe. Back then, she grew silent with Joe and become weaker or weaker in their relationship. It was only when she finally lashed out with her words and stood up to him that she regained her power. Now, she is using silence to be stronger. It highlights the differences between the two men and the two marriages.

  4. I agree as well, being silent shows that she understands not only how to maintain her sense of self in the relationship with Tea Cake, but also that she understands why Tea Cake is doing it and doesn't begrudge him for it. By stopping the violence rather than lashing out in return Janie is showing her strength.

    Also I think its important that Tea Cake does the same thing when Janie tries to hit him about Nunkie. Although she is less successful because Tea Cake can hold her back, he doesn't try to beat her in return - which I take to be rather unique for the time period