Standing Tall: Mapping Step by Step Metamorphosis of Janie Crawford in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel written by African-American novelist Zora Neale Hurston. Janie Crawford is the black female protagonist of the novel who dreams of reaching far horizons and for a relationship of equality in marriage. The novel is a saga of Janie Crawford’s journey towards enlightenment and developing an independent feminist identity. The present paper aims at analysing Janie’s struggle from a follower of patriarchy to becoming a self- asserting woman with Downing and Roush’s five stages of feminist identity development. I posit that Janie defies the stereotypical gender roles and breaks the conventional patriarchal boundaries that keep a woman’s movement in check i.e. within the four walls of a house. Although suffered degradation and humiliations in her attempts to realise her dream marriage, she is successful in the end. A step by step analysis of Janie’s journey reveals how she gains her voice, how she builds her identity and how ultimately she reaches the far horizons, the destination of her dreams. In the first phase of her journey, she accepts passively the accepted notions of gender roles and follows the well-trodden path of marrying a wealthy man to have shelter and financial security. Unable to establish any emotional connection with her husband, Logan Killicks, she leaves him for Joe Starks. With Joe Starks, Janie becomes aware of her further degradation. She is reduced to the status of the possession. Slowly and gradually she gathers strength inside her to raise a voice of protest against this sexual oppression. This revelation helps Janie to integrate her fragmented self and she learns to maintain a separate public and a separate private self. In the person of Tea Cake, she has a self-fulfilling and reciprocal loving relationship. Janie learns to acknowledge herself and her strengths. She becomes conscious of her own individual identity. She does not hesitate to shoot Tea Cake as an assertion of her identity. As a mature woman, full of Tea Cake’s love and remembrance, Janie is satisfied with her life
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