What Makes Janie's True Desire In 'Their Eyes Were Watching God'

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In “Their Eyes Were Watching God” Hurston launches us into what looks like the depiction of a young woman’s strong sexual desire. We soon learn however that sex is not the strongest desire driving Janie, or the novel as a whole. Hurston begins to redefine desire entirely and creates a character who longs not to have sex but to simply be heard. Hurston opens and closes her novel with the conversation between Janie and Pheoby, which, building onto Kaplan’s claim, expresses Janie’s true desire and explains her revelation under the pear tree. These conversations allow us to see who Janie truly is, just as she is figuring out the same thing. Hurston creates a lost character in Janie, a woman who needs to find her own voice, and who has been reliant upon other people to define her. Through her three marriages, close relationships and ultimately her expressive narrative to Pheoby, Janie begins and ends her quest to find her own voice and ultimately can define who she really is. Janie’s misconception of herself begins early in her life, only viewing herself through Nanny’s eyes. After Janie’s first kiss, Nanny talks to Janie about marriage and becoming a woman.…show more content…
After Jody’s death and Janie’s brief and fake mourning she meets and falls for Tea Cake. Tea Cake engages Janie in conversation, talking with her and putting himself on equal terms. Janie falls in love with Tea Cake mostly for his respect for her individuality. In Kaplan’s essay, Charles Taylor makes an argument about how recognition from others meets a vital human need. What people say or think about us shapes our identity, and if distorted or misrepresented, people can suffer real damage. Tea Cake was the first of three men in Janie’s life to make her feel like she had a place in the world. A place she could define and control without the influence of others. After Tea Cake’s death and Janie’s return home even the gossip of the sitters doesn’t phase
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