In the excerpt from Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the author portrays Janie’s complex attitude toward her husband, Joe, as emotionally distant in order to show how Joe is physically abusing Janie. Janie knows that her husband is ruining their marriage but she continues to isolate herself because anything she does or say won’t help her. Joe seems to have too much pride that he feels the need to have superior dominance over Janie, resulting in abuse.
This excerpt can grab the attention of those who are going through the same treatment looking for a way out. With the author’s use of metaphors, tone, and imagery she portrays an unhealthy marriage that leads Janie to distance herself from her own husband.
In the first paragraph, we already begin to see the start of Janie’s isolation, when Joe would do anything to have her “submission” but she soon realizes that fighting back “didn’t do her any good”.
Janie tried to communicate as she “fought back with her tongue” though her attitude changed quickly when she “pressed her teeth together”. We can feel her pain as she remained silent while her husband did “more”. Here, Janie went from communicative to detached, recognizing that Joe isn’t the person she wants him to be. Joe’s disrespect causes Janie to feel uncomfortable expressing her feelings to him. Having to hold your tongue and just take all the torment from your so called “husband” must’ve made life very depressing for Janie.
Her destructive husband is the source of her isolation which is also tearing her relationship apart.
The narrator carries a depressing tone throughout illustrating how Joe shows no respect or equality to Jamie, enhancing his male dominance making it difficult for Janie to be content with her marriage. In the second paragraph, it can be inferred that Janie wanted an intimate relationship however it was no longer “a daisy-field for her and Joe to play in. It was a place where she went and laid down”. The narrator makes it seem as if a child has lost all hopes and dreams of love. In this case, it’s Janie that is starting to give up on true love, “the spirit of the marriage left the bedroom” making it clear that Joe is the reason for their damaged marriage. Joe resembles a douche who doesn’t know how to properly treat women, ultimately leaving Janie broken.
The author later reveals to the readers the physical abuse made by Joe, sculpting the perfect unhealthy marriage that leaves Janie to become distant. There was no romance, only a destructive man juggling with a woman’s heart “tasteless mess” would describe their relationship perfectly. Hurston illustrates how lethal the abuse was “he slapped Janie until she had a ringing sound in her ears” all because the dinner she made wasn’t up to his expectations. This clearly exposes Joe for being a jerk and treating women like property. His violence towards Janie defines who he is, he is anything less of a man.
In this excerpt, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, the author portrays a man of too much dignity abusing a woman who wants nothing more than true love in order to show the reality of relationships. Joe’s macho madness resulted in him hurting a woman so poorly that she became detached from her own words. She had to emotionally distance herself in order to feel safe. Most men and women don’t share their story of abuse because one they’re in denial and blind to the “love”, two they’re afraid to get hurt again, or three maybe no one will believe them. To degrade a woman or man of his/her value shall be a crime, no one deserves to go through any form of abuse.