Thursday, March 5, 2009

Conflict with the Big Guy

"Somewhere up there beyond blue ether's bosom sat He. Was He noticing what was going on around here? He must be because He knew everything. Did He mean to do this thing to Tea Cake and her? It wasn't anything she could fight. She could only ache and wait. Maybe it was some big tease and when He saw it had gone far enough He'd give her a sign. She looked hard up there for something to move for a sign. . . Her arms went up in desperate supplication for a minute. It wasn't exactly pleading, it was asking questions. . . God would do less than He had in His heart" (178).

"They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God" (160).

I decided to find some evidence to support the idea from class today that Janie views herself as powerless in the hands of God and fate. In the first example, she realizes that Tea Cake is going to die, and yet she doesn't accuse God of being cruel or lash out at Him in any way, but rather says in resignation that "it wasn't anything she could fight". While Janie is conflicted with God and her own faith for taking Tea Cake from her, her reaction doesn't move her to action. I think God is a sort of comfort for Janie. She can be angry and sad for the loss of her husband, but she can be at peace knowing it was his fate.

In the second example, the title is finally referenced in describing the scene during the storm. Similarly, Janie and Tea Cake are completely in the hands of God, their lives to be determined by His will. They await their fate calmly and without fight. Of course later on, they decide to move to higher land, but in that instant, they could have very easily lost their lives to the violent winds, or the wrath of God.

Janie isn't dependent on God at any time in the novel, but throughout her journey she questions Him, and in that way she learns about herself and how to become independent in a world she cannot control. In the closing chapter, she tells Pheoby that everyone has "got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about living for theyselves" (192). I interpreted this as Janie putting the two things hand in hand. I think a prevalent theme here is that in the quest for self-discovery, one has to have an understanding of a higher power, or faith, in order to truly understand one's life and oneself. So while Janie is much more independent than she was at the start of the novel, she isn't independent of God. Rather, her life is controlled by Him and she can choose where she goes in life, but not what happens to her.

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