Thursday, March 5, 2009

Janie's Fate: Response to Class Discussion and Peer Post

{ I found a picture that I thought went along with this pretty well because it is a person jumping away from a bible, but for some reason it isn't showing up so I just included the link below:}

I wanted to expand on what we ended class talking about - Janie's independence in relation to God - and since Amanda already did a post about this, mine is sort of a rebuttal.

I'm in agreement with Tien that Janie is not complacent in her view of fate and God. This completely contradicts her journey to independence which she wants to share with Pheoby and does not reflect the changes Janie undergoes after shooting Tea Cake. One of the first points I want to clarify about Tien and my argument (I think he agrees with me on this because we talked about it at the end of class, but just to be sure I'll put a disclaimer that he might not) is that Janie does not resign herself to or accept the fate that God sets, what she accepts is Time and Death, the two entities Hurston personifies in this novel.

Referencing Amanda's first quote "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) I took it to have a different meaning. Janie does say that "It wasn't anything she could fight," and that can be taken to mean she couldn't fight God and the fate He set for her. However I believe the thing she can't fight is Tea Cake's death, not God. This is because Janie no longer has an opinion that God is benevolent or even indiscriminant becuase he simple isn't watching. She says "God would do less than He had in His heart", showing that Janie doesn't have much faith in God anymore in his affects on her daily life.

Janie's loss of belief is also shown in another quote; "They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God." Everyone is watching God, waiting for His recognition of their lives, good or bad. However it also says that what they are really watching is the dark. God doesn't have an omnipotent presence in Janie's life and she foreshadows this change in the above quote and elsewhere because every time Janie appeals to God, or watches God, she has no response and so she turns away from God.

This change manifests itself in her independence because Janie will not accept the fate of a god who ignores her life. Instead Janie is affected by Time, who mocks men's dreams to death (opening paragraph), and Death who had "been standing there before there was a where or a when or a then" (84). Throughout the novel, both time and death play an important role. Janie, Tea Cake, Joe Starks, and Logan Killicks are all criticized for their age in various ways. Janie is too young or old for a man; Tea Cake is too young for Janie and is untrustworthy; Joe's age is brought to light by Janie and he is demoralized by it; Logan is too old to keep Janie's attention. Also the idea of how time is spent - Janie feels like a shell when she spends her years in Eatonville with Joe Starks, but when Tea Cake shows her how to make the most of a moment, Janie feels fulfilled. Death is also a major part of Janie's life because Joe's death and Nanny's death both release some of the chains holding Janie back, while Tea Cake's death is the ultimate turning point in Janie's finding independence as she is able to kill the man she loves and relies upon because it will be better for him and she knows that she can get on without him.

I also wanted to address the last quote in Amanda's post; "Two things everybody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about living for theyselves." (192) Amanda used this to show that faith is necessary for self-discovery, but it can also be construed in the opposite direction. I think it is very important to notice that Janie separates the journey one makes to God, and the process of learning to live. To me, this shows Janie's separation of life and self-discovery from God. Janie says that a person needs to go to God, and then after do they learn how to live. In my opinion, at this point Janie has gone to God, realized that He does not control her life, and then learned to live in accordance. She recognizes the power of spirituality and so Janie considers God an important part of an individuals journey, but I believe that Janie also wants Pheoby, and others, to experience what she did in order for them to separate God's fate - which is a biblical and unproven entity - and the fate brought about by time and death, which is a tangible occurrence. The beginning and the end of this novel are told during the same time (Janie's present) and are told by Janie when she has completed her self-discovery. Yet the first mention of fate or a deity is not God, it is time. This furthers my belief that Janie does not consider herself humbled to God's will and accepting of whatever fate He has set for her, but merely living under the constraints of Time and Death, which are inescapable.

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