Two Artists, Two Methods, Same Result Voltaire's Candide and Zora Neal Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God are two books that use the main character's change in the story to show the author's main theme or moral. In Candide, Voltaire uses a comical or satirical approach in showing that a change is necessary in Candide's mentality towards life. Hurston uses a more realist method to display the need for a change in Janie's life. When comparing the two characters of Candide and Janie it takes little effort to compare them to two different sculptures"ÃÂone being chiseled out of some type of hard stone, and the other being soft clay that is continuously molded throughout the story. Disregarding the process in which these masterpieces are created, both Candide and Janie become sculptures that proclaim the same thing; that you must come to your own truth and that you should not accept someone else's beliefs or philosophies strictly because they say so or because it is expected of you.
Throughout Candide, Voltaire puts Candide through trial after trial, solely to antagonize and make a mockery of Pangloss' exceedingly optimistic teachings. In some of the worst scenario's that any man could possibly be subjected too, Candide continuously quotes and believes without hesitation what Master Pangloss told him: "all is for the best in this world."ÃÂ The fuel for Candide to continue on this quest is his love for Cunegonde. When Candide finally does get to the point where he and Cunegonde meet again and can marry, Cunegonde has become so ugly that when he finally saw her again he ""ÃÂ¦recoiled three paces, seized with horror, and then advanced out of good manners"ÃÂ (Voltaire 82). He does not love Cunegonde anymore but marries her because he thought it was the honorable thing to do. Eventually after enduring so many tragedies Candide finally questions Pangloss' teachings, and his form as a masterpiece sculpture is instantly jack hammered into shape when he develops the idea that we must all "cultivate our own garden"ÃÂ (Voltaire87). By this statement Candide tells us that we must come to our own conclusions on whether or not something or everything in general, is for the best, and that no one can form this conclusion for us.
Janie too, is put through trials, but her trials are much more subtle and convincing. Her "quest"ÃÂ is also for love, only she is not exactly sure of what type of man she can get the type of love that she envisioned while daydreaming under the pear tree one day. After Janie's Grandmother sees her kissing a man that she views as being no good, she forces Janie to marry Logan Killicks. Janie does not love Logan Killicks, but Nanny convinces Janie that she will love him soon enough. After a year has passed Janie realizes that she still does not love Logan, and his growing foul treatment of her cause her absence of love to mature into disgust towards him. Since Janie sees that this will never be the love that she imagined under the pear tree, she decides to make a change. She runs off and marries Joe Starks, a confident entrepreneur. The two move to Eatonville and Joe Starks helps build up the town and eventually becomes the mayor. Through the years Joe Sparks begins to neglect Janie's feelings, and treats her more and more like a possession instead of a mutual partner in a loving relationship. It doesn't take the reader long to realize that the true love of Joe Sparks life is Joe Sparks. Everything that Joe Sparks does for the town or for Janie is to gratify his own personal wants and aspirations even though some of his actions appear to be genuinely benevolent. After an incident where Joe Starks slaps Janie for ruining his dinner, she realizes that her marriage with him will never offer the love that she desired in a relationship. This paragraph from the book shows Janie's reaction to the slap: Janie stood where he left her for an unmeasured time and thought. She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. In a way she turned back upon the image where it lay and looked further. She had no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man, neither any glistening young fruit where the petals used to be. She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about. Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them. She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen. She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them (Hurston 73).
In that brief paragraph, Janie grows up real quick. I think that it is the most drastic change that Janie makes in the story. A major piece of the sculpture was molded into shape. Janie did not leave him but her heart did. Similar to how Nanny convinced her to marry Logan Killicks, the opinion of everyone else in the town convinced her to remain married to Joe Starks. Every other woman considered Janie to be very fortunate to be married to Jody and I think that this is what kept her with him until he died. Janie accepted the "teachings"ÃÂ of her grandmother and she accepted the "teachings"ÃÂ of the town members or porch sitters. Fortunately, Janie is not forced to remain in this relationship for life. Joe dies after nearly twenty years of marriage to Janie. Soon after his death other men try to court Janie. Janie turns down all the men that are most "suited"ÃÂ for someone of her class and beauty, and takes an interest in the most unlikely man"ÃÂVergible "Tea Cake"ÃÂ Woods. When Janie begins the relationship with Tea Cake I think that her form as a sculpture begins to take masterpiece shape. She is becoming a finished work. She forms the relationship with Tea Cake because she thinks that he is a nice person for her, and not because someone said he his is, and it seems obvious that if she is not satisfied with Tea Cake she would not hesitate in moving on. Janie's trials come in the form of relationships, but she still faces the decision of whether or not to develop her own ideas just as Candide did. As we see in her choice of marrying Tea Cake, Janie decides to "cultivate her own garden."ÃÂ Because both of these books have common themes, it is interesting how they both end with the same tone. Both characters appear to have more confidence in themselves. At the very end of Candide, Pangloss tries one more time to explain to Candide that all that he endured was for the best, and Candide says, "All that is very well but let us cultivate our garden."ÃÂ Here, Candide basically gives Pangloss' words no thought and stands fast to his recent revelation. These stories also end with a tone of uncertainty. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, you wonder if Janie will ever marry again, and what she does with the rest of her life. Candide also leaves you wondering what he will do with his newfound outlook on life. Another feeling that I get from both Janie and Candide is a sense of contentment. Neither stories really have fairy tale endings but the two characters seem to be pleased. You can sense Janie's contentment in this statement to Pheoby near the end: "Dey gointuh make "ÃÂmiration "ÃÂcause mah love didn't work lak they love, if dey ever had any. Then you must tell "ÃÂem dat love ain't somthin' lak uh grindstone dat's de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch"ÃÂ (Hurston 191).
Even though Tea Cake is dead she can still speak of their love with fond memories. From these two stories it can be assumed that a little uncertainty will come from forming your own beliefs, but confidence and contentment will likely follow, and they are key ingredients to Janie and Candide becoming finished works.
Candide and Janie are two characters that needed to come to the same realization; that we must develop our own opinions and views. Ideas or habits should not be accepted as being best for an individual merely because they are best for others. Candide and Their Eyes Were Watching God present this argument in two different ways. In Candide it is obvious of what shape we want his sculpture to be. By the end of the book we are relieved to finally see Candide take the shape that we knew he needed for so long. Voltaire forces us to take sides with him and his argument. In Janie's case we are never totally sure of the shape that Janie needs to mold to, but in the end we see that it was a good choice for her"ÃÂthus supporting the theme of Candide. Candide and Their Eyes Were Watching God are good examples of how two different forms of writing can both be used to argue the same idea. Voltaire uses the most foolish of characters, and Hurston uses a more realistic, ever-changing Janie to leave the reader with the same conclusion. In these stories, once the characters reach this conclusion, the masterpiece is complete.