Images of Big Lake Okeechobee in Florida
Group Presentation: Presentation – Chap. 14 ~16
Individual Write Up:
A Journey of Love
- Introduction: introduce your selected section and explain the significance of this selected section or topic to the full novel thus far
Chapter 14, 15 and 16 illustrates Janie’s new destination, an uncivilized new world, in Everglades in Big Lake Okeechobee. From Janie’s point of view, everything in Everglades looks carefree and easy going. Nothing belongs to any one like the rich wild field. She was deluded by the beauty of wildness in Everglades without knowing that all creatures in Big Lake Okeechobee live on under the law of the jungle; the strong control the weak. Until chapter 13, Janie played the weak and lived under the force of the strong, grandmother, Logan, and Jody. For Janie, accepting the realities and following their demands were the only way to survive. However, living in the new world, throughout chapter 14 to 16, provided her a different opportunity to change her position in the relationship from the weak to the strong. When Tea Cake taught Janie how to control “pistol and shot gun and rifle,” (125) Janie was empowered to deal with the danger and became the strong one in the wild nature.
- Passage Analysis: Summarize and analyze one significant passages in your section. Contextualize and explain the location of the passage in the novel; point to particular language in the passage that is symbolic of meaningful; explain the significance of the passage
Hurston implies many conflicts that Janie would encounter in the future at the very beginning of chapter 14 as Janie approached Everglades; “To Janie’s strange eyes, everything in the everglades was ‘big and new.’ Big Lake Okechobee, big beans, big cane, big weeds, big everything……..Volunteer cane just taking the place. Dirt roads so rich and black……. ‘Wild cane’ on either side of the road hiding the rest of the world. People wild too.” (123) The terms of “big” and “new” represent overwhelming power of nature that human cannot control and unpredictable incidents would occur in the future. “Wild” signifies the embodiment of “danger” or “harm” that might devastate Janie and Tea Cake’s relationship or their lives. People in Everglades live on the benefit of nature, wild beans and wild canes, but also their lives are threatened by the power of nature, wild animals and natural disasters. In the wild world, Janie and Tea Cake were not exceptional. While Janie practiced “new” diverse experiences of dancing, music and racial groups, she also understood “new” feelings of jealousy that she never had with two previous husbands over Nunkie who lures Tea Cake. This “new” wild environment transformed Janie into a “wild” animal; “wrestle” with Tea Cake until they both satisfied. (132) A strong racism from Mrs. Turner and feelings of inferiority made Tea Cake helpless and forced him to act like a predator to hide his weakness and to show who was the boss in their relationship.
- Scholarly summary: Summarize and explain the scholarly article you selected and how it applies to the section or topic thus far. Point to specific ideas the author of the article presents and explain why they are significant. You can use particular quotes to help clarify and apply these ideas.
Brian R. Roberts introduces how Hurston applied African American “animal tales” and how humans and animals interact in “Their Eyes” in his article; “Predators in the ‘Glades: A Signifying Animal Tale in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.” “Animal Tales” is to plot stories by characterizing animals as humans. According to Roberts, in “white America’s cultural animal tale,” “the Weak” are helpless animals and white women; “the Predator” are strong animals and black men; and the Hyper-Predator played exclusively by white men, who kill the Predator to show chivalry and mercy toward the weak, distinguishing themselves as heroes of the tale.” (42) However, during chapter 14, 15 and 16, the weak is black woman, Janie, and the predator is black men, Jody and Tea Cake, and the Hyper-Predator is Mrs. Turner who tried to segregate Janie from other negroes. Barry Holstun Lopez clarifies how white Americans perceive the relationship between humans and animals and how humans transform into predators like animals in his cultural history “Of Wolves and Men.” The quote, “Man saw himself as…. Correcting what was imperfect in nature; as he became more abstracted from his natural environment, he came to regard himself as the protector of the weak animals in nature against the designs of bullies like the wolf,” (40) can explains Tea Cake’s violence over Janie very well. When Mrs. Turner bulled Tea Cake and attempted to segregate Janie from him, his position turned to “the weak” and helpless to protect his love. As the weak, Tea Cake only can show his power over Janie rather than challenging Mr. and Mrs. Turner, the Hyper-Predators.
- Personal response: what do you take away from your reading of Hurston’s novel? What major ideas stand out to you most and why? What do you see that is fascinating, interesting, provocative, or frustrating? Be specific.
The most fascinating parts of “their Eyes” are the time phrases where Hurston describes Janie’s growth and how she became an independent mature woman throughout her long journey; “Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman,” (24) and “The young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place.” (83) Janie was not allowed to follow her only dream of a true love because her grandmother had a different perspective on women’s happiness and safety. In fact, Janie might be a victim of a generation gap between her grandmother and her two husbands, Logan and Jody. Although they loved Janie, they did not try to understand what Janie really wanted, but they just express their love in their own way; it sometimes appears as oppression, enforcement, insulting and humiliating. It is a great pity that Jody’s feeling of inferiority over Janie damaged their marriage. All after miserable relationships with Logan and Jody, Janie might feel equality and freedom during her marriage with Tea Cake. While he was not as rich as Logan and Jody, and he even beat her to prove his power over her, Janie was satisfied with him because he enthusiastically showed his love. Sharing in all joys and sorrows together in the wild muck developed their love stronger and deeper. The loss of a loved one, Tea Cake, completely filled her empty soul and ended her journey; “So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.” (184)
- Hurston, Zora Neale. “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” J. B. Lippincott, Inc. (1937): Chapter 14, 15, and 16
- Roberts, Brian R. “Predators in the ‘Glades: A Signifying Animal Tale in Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Southern Quarterly; Fall 2002; 41, 1; ProQuest pg. 39