Thursday, March 5, 2009

Characterization of Janie Through Joe's Death

I really like Janie. She is a fantastic character and breath of fresh air from the weak, passive women that usually exist in American literature. Her strength and confidence are refreshing, but on page 84, I was reminded that she is human. After being told that Joe is dying, Janie starts to feel bad for him. She says "Poor Jody! He ought not to have to wrassle in there by himself. (84)" In this instance, Janie feels sympathy for a man who took every chance he had to suppress Janie and change her. This shows that she is capable of forgiveness and ignoring the bad sides of people. It reminds the audience that there was once a connection between the Joe and Janie in the beginning.
I think that the reason for Janie' sudden change of heart is not the result of true sympathy and forgiveness. While Janie is reflecting on death, she says "She was liable to find a feather from his [death's] wings in her yard any day now. (84)" Janie feels herself getting older and seeing Joe dying is making her own age and morality all the more real. With this, she connects to Joe and can empathize with him to an extent. Janie is also still somewhat dependent on Joe at this point. He has controlled her for the past twenty years and she is definded by everyone, including herself, as Joe's wife. Though she may resent Joe and not love him anymore, she realizes at this point that Joe's death will change the pattern of her life. However, this is ironic. Janie pities Joe and feels sadness for his death. However, Joe's death is a major turning point in her life. After he dies, Janie is set free and relishes in her revived independence.

1 comment:

  1. This isn't supposed to sound obnoxious but I found Janie to be an insult to feminism. She needs men to save her from her troubles (Joe from Logan, Tea Cake from Eatonville). Hurston made it clear that basically Janie could not win. If she obeyed her husbands like a 1900's housewife, she was beaten. When she stood up for herself she killed her husband.
    Tea Cake stole from her and was both mentally and physically abusive. If you knew someone like TC in real life, you would immediately think of him as an abusive spouse. Janie just sits around and takes it.