Thursday, March 5, 2009

Janie and Society

Throughout the novel, Janie plays a role in different societies. I think that it is interesting that she takes on unique roles in the different societies that she is in. In her original home, where she lives with Nanny and eventually marries Logan Killicks, she is an ordinary woman and does not really stand out from society. Then when she moves to Eatonville with Joe Starks she takes on a completely different role. Joe Starks becomes the mayor of the new city with most of the power. Because Janie is his wife, she is not treated like all of the other women in the town. She is seen as a prominent figure rather than an ordinary person. While most of the women who live in Eatonville get to discuss with the porch sitters, Janie is forced to stay in the store. Also, Janie is not allowed to go to the mule’s burial because she is the mayor’s wife. This is just another example of how Janie is treated differently than everyone else in the community. Janie is always slightly removed from society, which I think leads to inner conflict. After living at Eatonville, Janie moves to the Everglades with Tea Cake. At first Tea Cake does not want Janie to work in the muck, and Janie is once again estranged from society. While most of the women are working, Janie is home. As the novel goes on Janie is asked to work in the muck and interacts with society more. I think this interaction allows Janie to feel more freedom and to get her ideas across better.
I think that Janie is conflicted over the idea of society. While at times she seems to enjoy society, other times she seems to be very much against it. This may be because of her independent personality. Also, at times she seems to care what others think about her, but other times she does not. As the novel concludes, I think that Janie realizes that she does not care what others think about her because she understands herself. As she passes the porch sitters back in Eatonville she does not explain anything to them or care about how they may judge her. At the beginning of the novel, she is trying to discover herself and relies somewhat on society to help her but as the novel concludes she relies more on herself. I am not sure if Janie's interaction with society was harmful or helpful in reaching her goal to understand herself. I think that it could probabaly be both.

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