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Janie's Quest for Self Identity in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Hurston

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In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Hurston the author gives several examples of one’s quest for self identity.  Throughout the story Janie's quest for self identity can be clearly seen as she keeps moving from one marriage to another. As time passes her search takes several bad turns, In the end she ends up finding her true identity.  Through her marriages with Logan, Joe, and Tea Cake she figures out she should do for herself and how she should live. In the end of the story she is where she finally wants to be and where she really belongs.

All her life Janie had lived with her grandmother Nanny, Nanny and Janie were lucky as they had the privilege to live in the yard of white folks. Ever since Janie was growing up she played with white children, It was later that she was confronted with disapproval and was bullied and given many names, so many that everyone started calling her alphabet, "'cause so many people had done named me different names”(68). Shortly she started putting together what she knew of her abnormal individuality.  One day she saw herself in a photograph and noticed that she looked distinctive, That she had dark skin, and said, "before Ah seen de picture Ah thought Ah wuz just like de rest”(9).  Ever since that day, Janie tumbled into somewhat of a descending spiral, setting her off of the path regarding her for own identity.  Finally when she had grownup Nanny witnessed her doing something under the pear tree which she believed was distasteful,  Nanny hastily prepared a marriage between Janie and a wealthy local man, Logan Killicks. Janie was against her grandmother’s decision.  She felt as if she was losing her independence as well as her individuality, she wasn't Janie anymore she would now be ...


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... men.  If women are unhappy in a marriage they should move on toward what pleases them.  She also points out that women in the twentieth century hold their life in their hands and that there is not a single person out there that has full control of it.  They should peruse to become equals of men because they are not the imprudent weaklings that should be obligated to fulfill a roll of subservience to men. 

  Janie had a difficult time finding her own identity.  Through her infancy, her marriage to Logan, Joe, and lastly Tea Cake, Janie always hoped to have an identity unlike anyone else.  Hurston's model for twentieth century women is a very distinct model.  One which holds freedom, identity, and an equal level of stature to men, all of which Janie struggled to have.Overall Janie's identity is one that numerous women in the twenty first century struggle to behold.


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