Janie's Voice in "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston

Essay by Bri86College, UndergraduateA, February 2007

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In the 19th century and early 20th century woman were silenced and didn't have a voice. In "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston, the central character Janie Crawford was not exempt from the lack of rights for women. Hurston portrays Janie with the same suppression similar to the women in that era. Women were to be seen (looking beautiful) and not heard. The majority of the novel Janie is silenced and subjected to, first, Logan Killicks, then to Joe Starks. During her time of being silenced she is trying to find her voice and eventually finds herself in the process. Even though Janie was verbally silent through most of the novel, she usually said more through her actions. Her presence alone show she should be respected. Therefore, Janie should be valued as a whole not just as someone whose voice has been mired because of the biasness of society.

Janie didn't have to speak verbally to be heard. The actions that Janie takes are adequate enough.

Hurston is phenomenal at creating intensity to the voices of those who are silent and lack their own voice. I found it interesting that as the men in the novel voices develop they become almost corresponding to the development of Janie's. Because of Janie's relationship with the male figures in this novel her own voice strengthens. An example of this is when Janie was considering leaving Killicks for Joe Starks; she began questioning Killicks about regarding the idea of her running off. Another example is when Joe Starks is dying she was finally able stand up to him after nearly thirty years of suppression.

Passion and control correspond to voice and silence, as expressed by the three relationships in Janie's life. Hurston brings together the men and women in her novel,