Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dominant Males

Throughout this novel there has been a startling similarity between the men Janie picks to marry: they have all tried to dominate her. Janie's first husband, Logan Killicks was pretty wimpy and did not really make Janie do much besides normal domestic chores and he did not really push her around that much. He was her only husband that did not try to control her and he was her only husband that she did not choose; Nanny chose him.

Her second husband, Joe Starks, was obviously dominant. He forced Janie to keep her hair up so no other men could see it, he made her work in the store and yelled at her when she made a mistake, and he would not let her talk or play checkers with the townspeople. He very obviously controlled every aspect of Janie's life and Janie, "[...] was a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels" (76). All the spirit she used to possess had left her. Joe had beat it out of her.

Some time after Joe died Janie fell in love with, and married Teacake. Teacake seem nice enough, and he seems to really love her, but little things he does shows us that he, too is controlling. First he makes Janie wear blue dresses. Making her wear a certain color seems harmless enough, but soon it leads to other, more detrimental. He steals Janie's money and then disappears for a few days. Then when he returns, saying that he threw a huge party with he money, he expects to be forgiven immediately. His controlling behavior is most obvious in the everglades. Mrs. Turner had mentioned that Janie would be better suited to marry her brother instead of Teacake. Hearing this Teacake became jealous and beat Janie up. He did this, not because Janie had not done anything wrong, but because he wanted to show Mrs. Turner and her brother that he controlled her.

It is clear that throughout Janie's life she only picks men who dominate her. This may be because she was raised by her grandmother and a father figure was noticeably lacking in her life. She may be trying to fill this gap in her life with men like Joe Starks and Teacake. She is always looking for men who will look after her and control what she does.
The photo of the male silverback gorilla relates because in a pack of gorillas there is always one dominant male that controls the rest. Both Joe and Teacake are similar to the gorilla because they both need to be dominant.

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