In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie battles to find Individualism within
herself. Janie, all her life, had been pushed around and told what to do and how to live
her life. She searched and searched high and low to find a peace that makes her whole
and makes her feel like a complete person. To make her feel like she is in fact an
individual and that she’s not like everyone else around her. During the time of ‘Their

Eyes’, the correct way to treat women was to show them who was in charge and who was
inferior. Men were looked to as the superior being, the one who women were supposed
to look up to and serve. Especially in the fact that Janie was an African American
women during these oppressed times. Throughout this book, it looks as though Janie
makes many mistakes in trying to find who she really is, and achieving the respect that
she deserves.

Living with her Grandmother and theWashburns’, Janie was surrounded and
raised with white children. She always believed that she was white herself, and that she
was no different than anybody else. As she was growing up, she was told what to do and
how to live by her grandmother. Janie’s grandmother planned her life out for her. She
told her that she must get married right away. “Yeah, Janie, youse got yo’ womanhood
on yuh. So Ah mout ez well tell yuh whut Ah been savin’ up for uh spell. Ah wants to
see you married right away.” Janie’s grandmother did want what was best for Janie, but
she basically told her what to do instead of letting her know what she wanted for her.

Janie’s grandmother told her exactly who she was going to marry and who she wasn’t
even to think about. “Whut Ah seen just now is plenty for me, honey, Ah don’t want no
trashy negro, no breath-and-britches, lak Johnny Taylor usin’ yo’ body to wipe his foots
on. Brother Logan Killicks, he’s a good man.......You answer me when Ah speak. Don’t
you set dere poutin’ wid me after all Ah done went through for you!” She is basically
telling Janie that she can’t marry Johnny Taylor, the one she is exploring her womanhood
with, the one she wants, and that she must marry Logan, for protection. Towards the end
of the book, Janie resents her grandmother for “living” her life for her and planning her
future. To find out what will happen in a persons future, they need to live their life on
their own and not have it planned for them. They can’t be told how to live there lives in
order to succeed.

To succeed, we need to learn from our own mistakes, and live with the weight of
our decisions. This is exactly what Janie did in her marriage to Logan. She did as she
was told, or rather, expected to do. Janie didn’t want to marry Logan, but if it made her
grandmother happy, then by all means, why not give it a shot. If it meant that she’d be
secure. In her marriage to Logan, she found out that that’s not what she wanted. Janie
wanted love, happieness, comfort and enjoyment. She didn’t want her first marriage to
be like a prison sentence. “Did marriage end the cosmic loneliness of the unmated, did it
compel love like the sun the day?” This is asking if marriage made love for Janie as the
sun makes the day for the world. Is the basis of love marriage...just as the basis for day is
the sun. To Janie, this was not true. She did not feel as though she loved Logan, and
that’s all she really wanted. She didn’t want to be treated as the rest of the world was
treated. She wanted to be treated as an individual and not as a slave. She was a slave to
marriage. She didn’t want to be there, where there was no warmth.

Joe Starks stole Janie away from Logan. He saved her from the boringness of
their dull marriage. He woed her with his words of kindness. He promised her
happieness. “De day you puts yo’ hand in mine, Ah wouldn’t let de sun go down on us
single. You ain’t never knowed what it was to be treated lak a lady and Ah wants to be
de one tuh show yuh.” He wanted her to feel special, and be treated like she was
somebody.