Janie in Zora Neale Hurston Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2243 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 21  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .
Janie's greatest emotional challenge is to learn to live for her own self, without fear and truthfully. This, however, is extraordinarily difficult for her, especially given her grandmother's fear-generating messages, implicit and explicit, about men, the outside world, and Janie's place within it as a young black female.

Janie is overprotected, by her grandmother. However, Celie in The Color Purple is not protected by her family at all. In fact, her own father impregnates her, twice, and by age 14, she has two children/half-siblings. Soon afterward, her father barters her into marriage (with a cow thrown in as Celie's dowry), by promising her new husband (who also keeps a mistress, Shug Avery, right there in the house) that Celie is a good housekeeper and will look after her new husband's young children from a previous marriage, although they are not much younger than Celie. (To cover this up, Celie's father lies that Celie is 20 when she is only 14). In both novels, early marriage, against the will of the main character, provides a roof over the head of the main character, and also relieves her guardian of further responsibility.

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In neither case, though, does the guardian take the girl's own wishes into consideration. In both books, therefore, the messages that the main characters receive, very early in life, is that their selfhood does not matter; instead, it is only their burgeoning sexuality that needs to be "handled," through marriage. But both Celie and Janie must identify and accept, their true selves. Only then can either find any genuine satisfaction within marriage, as both eventually do. Janie finds happiness with her third marriage to Tea Cake. Celie, surprisingly, finds happiness with Mr. ____ but must first find the courage to stand up to him, with the twin catalysts of Shug's encouragement and the anger she feels that Mr. ____ has hidden letters to her from her younger sister Nettie (whom Celie thought dead) for a decade.

Term Paper on Janie in Zora Neale Hurston's Assignment

As both Walker and Hurston imply in the conclusions of their respective novels, happiness within oneself must come first, if one is ever to find happiness with another. Janie finds happiness with a younger man. Tea Cake cannot provide for Celie; she in fact provides for him, but through experience, Janie knows that who a man is, is far more important than what he has. Both women to an extent also recapture their lost (or stolen) youth. Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God ends sadly, however, with the death of Tea Cake, although,

Janie, having loved him, and, through that love, both found and learned to love herself, will always have her happy memories of Tea Cake, "with the sun for a shawl." As Janie also realizes: "Of course he wasn't dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made love and light against the wall. Here was peace." (p. 286).

And, as Celie states at the end, reunited with Nettie, her biological children, Shug, Sofia, and the rest of her extended circle of family and friends, reconciled with Mr. ____, and even enjoying marriage to him now that they have become friends and equals, "[D]on't think us feel old at all. . . . Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt." (p. 251)

Works Cited

Berlant, Lauren. "Race, Gender, and Nation in The Color Purple" in Modern

Critical Interpretations: Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Harold Bloom (Ed.).

Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. 3-11. Questia Online Library.

Retrieved May 22, 2005, from:
=o& d=98103788.html>.

Bloom, Harold. "Introduction.." In Modern Critical Interpretations: Alice Walker's

The Color Purple. Harold Bloom (Ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House,

2000. 1-2. Questia Online Library. Retrieved May 22, 2005, from:

.

Gates, Henry Louis Jr. "Color Me Zora: Alice Walker's (Re)Writing of the Speakerly Text." 29-52. Harold Bloom (Ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea

House, 2000. Questia Online Library. Retrieved May 22, 2005, from:

.

"Hurston, Zora Neal." Microsoft Online Encarta Encyclopedia. Retrieved May

22, 2005, from: .

Hurston, Zora Neale. "The Gilded Six-bits." The Harper American Literature, Vol.

2, 2nd ed. Donald Mc Quade et al. (Eds). New York, Longman, 1993. 1064-

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Urbana and Chicago:

University of Illinois Press, 1978.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Pocket, 1982.

Williams, Sherley Anne. "Foreword." In Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were

Watching God. Urbana and Chicago: University… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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