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Rock Street, San Francisco

Janie Crawford has always struggled to find her freedom because of the people around her, but she finally gets her freedom after experiencing grief and loss. How is that possible though? Well, in Zora Neale Hurston’s book Their Eyes Were Watching God, The main character, Janie, had a rough past. She lived with a very strict grandma who forced her to marry a controlling man who then dies. She then married another man, to find out he was just as dominant as her last husband. Once he passes away several years later, Janie is able to be her true self again physically and emotionally. She becomes a different and better person and is able to make her own choices. Janie associated freedom with death because only after her controlling husband died was she able to regain her freedom and be her true self again.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie’s hair is a symbol that is associated with her freedom after her husband dies. Joe, Janie’s second husband, starts ordering Janie to do things that she doesn’t want to do, including tying her hair up. “That night he ordered Janie to tie up her hair around the store.” It is clear that Joe is forcing Janie to cover up her hair especially when she is working at the store. Hurston mentions this to show that he is controlling her to cover it up without her having a choice since he “ordered” her to do it. Later on in the book, she lets down her hair freely the same day Joe dies. “She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair.” Now that joe is dead, she has the freedom to let down her hair without being ordered to tie it up, showing that she is finally free. Janie’s hair symbolizes her freedom after her controlling husband dies.
After Janie’s husband dies, she is able to voice her opinions and talk to people without someone forbidding her not to. While Janie was working in the store she enjoyed starting conversations with town folks, but Joe didn’t like it. “Janie loved the conversation and sometimes she thought up good stories on the mule, but Joe had forbidden her to indulge.” Janie loved starting conversations with others on topics she was interested in, but after marrying Joe, he had forbidden her in talking to others about certain topics she enjoyed talking about. He made her talk less to other because he thought they were trashy. After Joe dies, Janie is able to be more social with people. “Janie talked and laughed in the store at times…” After Joe passes away, Janie begins to be more social at the store since he isn’t there to stop her. Earlier in the book, he had forbidden her to talk to people, but now she has the choice to talk to others without being punished and stopped. She is now able to discuss topics she always enjoyed talking about. Janie had the choice and freedom to speak to others without her husband there to stop her after his death.
Once joe died, Janie was not being abused and bullied by him anymore since she was now free. When they were together, Joe would constantly hurt Janie, and every time she would fight back it wouldn’t work. “Time came when she fought back with her tongue as best she could, but it didn’t do her any good. It just made Joe do more. He wanted her submission and he’d keep on fighting until he felt he had it.”Joe was abusive and dominant because he wanted to prove to Janie that he was better than her. Every time she fought back it wouldn’t help her; it only made things worse. It made Janie feel controlled since she didn’t have a say in their relationship. After his death, Janie is then happy because she is free.”Besides she liked being lonesome for a change. This freedom feeling was fine.” Janie wasn’t in a relationship anymore since Joe died. She was now alone, and she was happy because she felt free. Janie didn’t have someone abusing and dominating her anymore.

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