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"Dey all useter call me Alphabet 'cause so many people had done named me different names," Janie says (Hurston 9). The nickname "Alphabet" is fitting in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God because Janie is always changing and rearraging, never the same. Janie Crawford was constantly searching for happiness, self-realization, and her own voice. Janie dares not to fit the mold, but rather defy it to get what she wants. On the journey to find her voice, she marries three separate men and each one of these men contribute to Janie’s quest in different ways.
In the beginning, the pear tree symbolizes Janie’s yearning to find within herself the sort of harmony and simplicity that nature embodies. However, that idealized view changes when Janie is forced to marry Logan Killicks, a wealthy and well-respected man whom Janie’s Nanny set her up with. Because Janie does not know anything about love, she believes that even if she does not love Logan yet, she will find it when they marry. Upon marrying Logan, she had to learn to love him for what he did, not for that infallible love every woman deserves. After a year of pampering, Logan becomes demanding and rude, he went as far to try to force Janie to do farm work. It was when this happened that Janie decided to take a stand and run away with Joe. At this time, Janie appears to have found a part of her voice and strong will. In a way, she gains a sense of independence and realizes she has the power to walk away from an unhealthy situation and does not have to be a slave to her own husband.
After moving to Eatonville and marrying Joe, Janie discovers that people are not always who they seem to be. While Joe at first seemed to be easy-going and friendly, she watched his true colors develop. Jody, as Janie calls him, is selfish and cruel. He is much more interested in power and purchasing than he is in Janie. Instead of treating Janie like the beautiful woman that she is, he uses her as an object. Joe was a man who “treasured [Janie] as a posession” (Berridge). Joe’s demanding nature suppresses Janie’s urge to grow and develop, thus causing her journey to self-realization to take steps backward rather than forward. In Janie’s opinion, “he needs to “have [his] way all [his] life, trample and mash down and then die ruther than tuh let [him]self heah 'bout it” (Hurston 122). It is almost as if Janie loses sense of her own self-consciousness due to the fact that she becomes like a puppy being told what to do by her master. The death of Jody is actually a positive thing. Joe’s controlling nature stifles Janie’s inner voice. While married to Jody, Janie became closer to others, however, she did not become closer to herself. Being on her own again gave her another chance to embark on her journey and realize who Janie Crawford really is.
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