Essay on Equality and Inequality in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Equality and Inequality in Their Eyes Were Watching God

In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, the author, Zora Neale Hurston, attempts to bring into light problems caused by prejudice. However, as she tries to show examples of inequality through various character relationships, examples of equality are revealed through other relationships. Janie, the novel's main character, encounters both inequality and equality through the treatment she receives during her three marriages.

     Janie's first marriage is to Logan Killicks. Logan enters the marriage with a large portion of land. However, Janie enters the marriage with practically nothing. This ends up becoming a relationship based on inequality because Logan starts to use his ownership of the land to control Janie. He tries to make her feel that she owes him for part of the land, which he is sharing with her. What begins as a relationship in which Logan struggles to make Janie happy, turns into a relationship in which Janie is expected to make Logan happy. She is often reprimanded for not doing enough work or for not working in certain areas such as the fields.

     It is during that unhappy marriage that Janie meets Jody Stark, who comes along with dreams of power, wealth, and happiness. " De day you puts yo' hand in mine, Ah wouldn't let de sun go down on us single. Ah'm a man wid principles. You ain't never knowed what it was like to be treated lak a lady and Ah wants to be de one tuh show yuh." (Pg.28) Janie is promised that she will be treated quite well. So naturally, she leaves Logan and sets out for a new town with Jody. This relationship can be classified as equal in some aspects. However, for the most part, this too becomes a marriage based on inequali...

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...g which is totally hers. Either her husband already owns it or he earns it. In the marriage to Tea Cake, Janie plays an active role in acquiring the money they use. It belongs as much to her as it does to him.

     Overall, these are the main forms of equality shared by Tea Cake and Janie. It is through these equalities, encouraged by Tea Cake, that they are enabled to live happy and fulfilling lives. Never once is Janie made to feel inadequate to Tea Cake, like she is to Logan and Joe. The happiness this has caused in their marriage is best summed up in a quote by Janie describing Tea Cake, " He kin take most any lil thing and make summertime out of it when times is dull. Then we lives offa dat happiness he made till some mo' happiness come along." (Pg.135)

Works Cited:

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998.

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