Gender Roles in their Eyes were Watching God

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Gender roles are a crucial theme in the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston. According to the narrative, women and men play diverse roles. The women are not only thought of as the frailer gender but are also characterized by their affiliation with men. The female counterparts are portrayed as good little wives who are not allowed to speak up or disrespect their men. The women could only acquire power by marrying powerful and rich men. It was expected of men to prove their masculinity by controlling their companions and putting them in the right direction. This essay discusses the perception of masculinity and aims at describing Tea Caker’s masculinity as he relates with Janie. Women get conformed to states of domesticity, passivity, and objects of desire by men.

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Women’s actions are limited with notions of propriety and insults on their sexuality and appearances. When they show any male behaviorism the form of authority, intelligence, and ambition, they are viewed as extra masculine and hence; ugly. On the other hand, men are expected to take control and prove their masculinity to peers by showing their wives who the boss is. Although Hurstonr’s writing focuses on the struggle of women in a society that is dominated by masculine beings, her use of Tea Cake as a character takes a different approach to the masculinity perception. When Tea Cake married Janie, he at first appeared to be inconsiderate and domineering to his spouse. He later proves his love for Jannie by working hard and making sacrifices, and this continued up until he passed away.

Tea Cake, Janier’s third husband, and lover excites her by his swift wit and enthusiasm for life, and his characteristics represent the decent carefree side of men since he believes more in gender equality. Tea Caker’s support for gender equality is seen when he educates Janie on hunting and shooting guns since these are activities which are viewed as more masculine in society. It is also assumed, Tea Cake has a real liking for and understanding of Janie. He encourages Janie to enjoy her freedom and respects her personal choices. Even with all the sweet characteristics portrayed by Tea Cake, he still carries some negative behaviors towards his lover by stealing from her and being physically abusive. These bad episodes, nevertheless, make him a more realistic character than one who has only perfect optimistic qualities.

Tea Cake assumes a role in Janier’s life, helping her to understand herself better. By training her on gun handling, he ironically gives her the skills and tools which are eventually used to finish him off. After being bitten by a dog, the rabies he acquired were well-thought-out as amplifiers of his mistakes, for instance, jealousy. Janie’s stand on saving herself instead of yielding herself to the insane Tea Cake proves to her growing logic of identity and illustrates that his ultimate role in the tale is to support her in experiencing joy and safety confidently.

Like all previous husbands to Janie, Tea Cake plays a supportive role and functions as a catalyst which aides in pushing Janie towards her goals. As is portrayed at the end of the novel, Janie stays hopeful and firm following the death of Tea Cake. It is fair to state that she does not depend on Tea Cake although, he plays a crucial role in her growth. In Tea Cake, Janie discovers a vivacious and creative character who likes exploring his surrounding world and encourages her desire to cultivate. When they met, Janie had already begun forming a firm, proud sense of self, and Tea Cake ends up accelerating this spiritual growth.

Tea Cake can be considered as a tragic hero since his rabies fueled jealousy is what ends up destroying him. When he tries to kill Janie, because he undermines her, Janie ends up shooting him in self-defence. His pride also makes him unable to call the doctor even when in dire need. This is because of the societyr’s stereotypic nature towards masculinity; that to be a real man, one must endure through pain and not cry for help from others, instead of facing the challenges with strength. Tea Cake also portrays societyr’s and menr’s despiteful behaviors towards women, viewing them as timid and weak characters when he tries to shoot Janie, but she later proved her capability of using such a powerful weapon and killing him in defence. Thus, one would see that men seemingly show their superiority toward women and it is unusual for women not to beaten when they fall out of direction.

Finally, Tea Cake, Janie’s soul mate, portrays the good side of men who appreciate their wifer’s values. He is an incessantly young person like Janie. The two met some few months after Janier’s second husband passed away and Tea Cake fascinated her with his humble behavior and joyful appeal. He has no joint aspiration and acknowledges nature and beauty. The couple sits up late laughing and talking, admiring the night and the moon. Janie finds the love fantasy which she yearned for as a young lady in Tea Cake. Tea Cake also exposes Janie to new things: he trains her how to hunt, play checkers, and how to coexist with the laborers in the Everglades. Tea Cake encourages Janie to be herself unlike her ex-husbands, who always constrained her to conceal her natural personality.

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Gender Roles In Their Eyes Were Watching God. (2019, May 29). Retrieved April 2, 2023 , from

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