Why Does Janie Hate Nanny

Topics: Behavior

The novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston takes place in 1928 in the southwest United States. Throughout the novel, Janie, the protagonist seeks her horizon or her major goals in life. Janie wants to find what she calls “pear tree love”, in other words Janie wants to fall in love with the right man and live happily ever after. Nanny, a minor opening character raises Janie and she wants the best for her. She attempts to set up Janie’s life by outlining an unrealistic lifestyle.

Janie detests her grandmother for making certain choices about Janie’s life. By the end of the novel, Janie comes to realize that everything Nanny did for Janie was for a good reason. Nanny appears to create misery for Janie by constricting Janie’s potential; however she truly enhances Janie’s character and helps her create a new horizon.

Nanny makes Janie’s life miserable by making her marry Logan Killicks because she feels that Janie needs protection.

Nanny lived during the 1860’s around the same time as slavery making her think in an old fashioned manner. Nanny believes that men need to provide for women which marriage accomplishes. On that thought, Nanny decides that Janie should marry Logan Killicks. Janie describes Logan as, “some ole skullhead in de grave yard” (13). In other words, she describes him as old. Nanny senses Janie’s feelings about getting married and tells her, “Ah can’t die easy thinkin’ maybe de menfolks white or black is makin’ a spit cup outa you” (20).

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The point that Nanny tries to get Janie to understand that men are good and bad, and by marrying Janie off to Logan, Nanny believes that Janie will be in good hands for the future. Nanny also teaches Janie not to be a ‘spit cup’, in other words Nanny does not want any man to take advantage of her granddaughter. At this point and time, Janie does understand what Nanny expresses; instead Janie chooses to hate her grandmother. Thus, by making Janie marry Logan Killicks, Nanny makes Janie unhappy but at the same time Nanny knows that Logan can provide and protect her.

Why Did Nanny Want Janie To Marry Logan

Janie feels that Nanny’s teachings constrict her horizon. Nanny feels the importance of telling Janie about the world’s social hierarchy of the time, “De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so far as Ah can see” (14). Nanny explains that black women are at the bottom of the world and they cannot do anything about it. Nanny continues teaching Janie that the only way she will gain happiness, if she gets married to the right man. She will then have some money and he will be able to keep her content. So as time passes, Janie meets Jody Starks, who represents everything that Nanny taught Janie. Jody becomes the mayor of the town Eatonville and opens a general store and makes a lot of money. Janie seems happy until Jody becomes extremely domineering and refers to himself as god (36). It gets even worse when Jody begins to tell Janie what she can and cannot do. Janie thinks that Nanny’s teachings are wrong.

The narrator explains, “Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon…and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that [Nanny] could tie it around her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her” (89). Everything that Nanny told Janie becomes wrong during Janie’s time with Jody. He makes her life miserable. On one hand he provided for her and he gave her expensive gifts but on the other hand he was a vicious controlling monster that in the end took advantage of Janie. Once Jody dies, Janie has this epiphany and decides that she will live her life on her own terms. She also decides that she hates Nanny for everything that Janie has been through up until this point. Nanny’s teachings have constricted Janie’s horizon, but at the same time, Janie makes a new horizon.

Although Janie takes all of Nanny’s teachings the wrong way, she eventually uses them to find her new horizon. During Janie’s marriage to Logan Killicks, Logan attempts to turn Janie into a spit cup and a metaphoric mule. He tries to make Janie a mule by making her plow on his farm. He even goes into to town to buy her, her own mule (27). Then he turn Janie into a spit cup by holding, “his wad of tobacco real still in his jaw like a thermometer of his feelings while he studied Janie’s face and waited for her to say something” (27). Nanny’s main point in everything that she taught Janie is to never be a spit cup, and here Logan makes a spit cup out of Janie. Once this happens Janie realizes that Logan does not treat her right and that she should leave. Due to Nanny’s teachings, Janie had the sense to leave Logan when things got bad. When Janie meets Tea Cake, she has a whole new horizon. She wants to be in real love with someone, meaning not just the physical part but she also wants the emotional part of it. Her other goal focuses on being accepted in a community in which she has the freedom to do and say what she pleases and be accepted for who she is (89). This new horizon can be related to all of Nanny’s teachings. Tea Cake provides for her and he makes her happy. Tea Cake demonstrates exactly what Nanny wants for Janie.

Nanny’s short appearance at the beginning, affects Janie throughout the novel. The decisions that Janie makes, comes from Nanny teachings. She chose to hate Nanny for the pain of being with Logan. He tries to turn Janie into a spit cup and a mule. Nanny teaches Janie that men should respect women and when the relationship between Janie and Logan got bad, Janie had the sense to leave. Nanny also tries to constrict Janie’s horizon, but at the same time Nanny’s advice helps Janie create a new horizon. Nanny’s teachings show Janie that there lies more in life than just “pear tree love” (11). Originally, Nanny’s guidance made Janie upset and angry, but as time went on, Janie finally understood her grandmother’s approach on life. Eventually, Janie followed Nanny’s words, and because of that, Janie’s life became everything that she wanted.

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Why Does Janie Hate Nanny. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-does-nanny-help-or-hurt-janie/

Why Does Janie Hate Nanny
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