Their Eyes Were Watching God: Summary


Doug Wink
P-7 2/22/97

A caterpillar crawls along a desolate branch. His many appendages grip
the gray bark as he undulates his body along the path in the shade. Creeping
steadily forward he is looking for the proper place suitable enough for him to
change his identity. Upon finding a twig sprout where he can get bilateral
support, he builds his cocoon. After his cocoon is finished the caterpillar
crawls in for his metamorphosis. If one is to see a cocoon on a tree it does
not resemble beauty, it is a bland piece of wound thread like material with a
hole in the top. When one sees a butterfly they may look twice or stop what
they are doing all together and chase it around following each of their sporadic
movements as the hot sun illuminates and watches from above. Identity has
changed. What once was a little ugly caterpillar that kids would go around
squishing and people would flick from trees when given the chance, went on to be
an ignored sack secured to branch. Nobody pays attention to the fact that
beautiful butterflies are the results of these common eyesores. As the
caterpillar grew older it matured and changed, from being stuck on land to
airborne, from being ugly to beautiful, from being young to old. All living
things mature, all things change, wherever time is a variable identities are
changing. Janie is no different from these things, she too has a changing
identity that can be traced throughout four main parts in the book.
Janie is a young girl who at first docent even know her own identity.
Being rose by her Nanny in a house full of white people, you could see how this
could have been the start of an identity crisis. Janie was always treated like
a white person during her youth, the people Nanny worked for dressed Janie as if
she was white, they sent Janie to school with the other white children, and
Janie\'s friends were all white. Janie knew no better than to think she was
white. That was her identity. One time when a picture was shown to her of her
and all of her friends, Janie was missing and in her place was a black girl in
her dress. She had no idea she was different from the other children. Black,
black as night and different from her friends, this was a change in Janies
identity. Janie now thought different of herself knowing she was black. Her
identity had changed for the first time.
Janie was sent off to marry, Janie had envisionments of marrying for
love and romance she says to Nanny after marrying Logan “Ah wants things sweet
wid mah marriage....” . Janie had thought to her self “Husbands and wives
always loved each other, and that was what marriage meant.” (both exerts p.20-
23) this is what Janie wanted, this is what Janie did not get. Janie had a bad
marriage with Logan because her identity had changed. Janie went from being
told what to do, to her own woman. Now Janie was ready for what she wanted, and
now she knew who she is. Peoples perspective of Janie is a different kind of
identity, but is still part of ones identity. People saw Janie as Logans woman
now, man saw Janie as a good looker, and Logan saw Janie as his object. While
outside pumping water, Janie noticed a man walk by. That man noticed Janie too.
Jody Starks was his name and he was traveling south to an all Negro town. Jody
noticed Janie as a beautiful woman who should be doing nothing but sitting on
the porch in the shade. Jody offered to take Janie along with him to Eatonville
to be his bride. Janie Accepts. Her identity has changed again, now she is
Jodys woman.
Upon arrival to Eatonville, Jody becomes Mayor of the town, buys land,
cleans up, builds a store, and builds a post office. Now Janie is considered
the Mayor\'s wife and Store keeper. Except by Pheoby her friend. Pheoby saw
Janie as a exemplary woman beautiful in her ways, and knowledge to back it up.
Janie and Jody didn\'t get along for long, soon Jody was pestering her about the
store and how she should be working harder. Jody also had a problem with the
way other men were looking at Janie when she wasn\'t looking. Jody made Janie
wear her hair up in a hair rag which Janie did not want to do,