Friday, February 13, 2009

Theme: Independence from Society

In the first chapter of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (TEWWG), it is clear that the protagonist, Janie Starks, marches to her own beat. Janie seems to be a member of a gossipy town where everyone's business is known by everybody else. Janie does her best to avoid this aspect of town life and ignores the acrimonious remarks made by the ladies of her neighborhood. Her friend, Pheoby Watson, is in awe of Janie. Pheoby takes part in these conversations the ladies have, held on her own front porch. The fact that Janie doesn't especially care what they say about her or what lies and rumors they make up is remarkable to her. The harsh remarks are such a part of society in the town that it becomes part of life there. As Janie walks by, the ladies "made burning statements with quetions, and killing tools out of laughter". The fact that Janie remains dispassionate and just walks on by without one retort shows how strong she is. It also shows that she is not a part of society and she likes it this way.

Another way Janie transcends society is her manner of dress. The ladies from the porch, granted all in their older years, dress rather conservatively. When Janie saunters by in overalls that allows men's minds to wander, it opens her up to more attacks from the porch. Janie is not old, but not especially young, in age at least. She dresses provocatively compared to others her age, and she definately gets attention. Like with ignoring the porch comments before, Janie is unfazed by the "sitters" and their derrogatory remarks about her.

Janie also is very different from the societal norm because she is involved with a younger man named Tea Cake. This is considered completely innapropriate and wrong by the sitters. Janie is seen as a snob in some ways because of her lack of action towards the porch and the ladies occupying it. The fact that she doesnt give a hoot about what they think of her and her actions os possibly what drives the sitters' interest.

Janie Starks is entirely an individual person, displaying her true self through her unshakable self confidence and her ability to separate from the common and tried ways of society by avoiding gossip, dressing as she likes, and spending time with whomever she prefers.

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