The novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” written by Zorn Neal Hurst is praised as one of the greatest works of American literature due to the outstanding use of figurative language and presentation of such controversial topics. Such as women empowerment and the true nature of relationships. The main character, Jeanie is heavily influenced by the people around her, and due to such actions, she is unable to reach her dreams, or her horizon. In TWIG, two characters In particular, her grandmother, Nanny, and Joe Starks manipulate Jeanie by abusing their power and sections of authority and respect.
Through manipulation, Hurst implies that one must face adversity and struggle through darker paths to truly reach their own horizon. Genie’s life, like many others, is heavily influenced by her family. Her only blood related relative, Nanny, manipulates Jeanie by forcing her perspective of the world upon Jeanie. In the early days of Genie’s youth, she saw love and marriage as natural and beautiful. Genie’s mind wandered to the Idea of love and marriage, and In the spur of the moment, kissed a boy. Nanny saw this and became furious. She rushed UT and made Jeanie promise to never do that again.
Nanny even slapped Jeanie out of rage. When Nanny finally calmed down, she explained to Jeanie her misfortunes with men. Telling Jeanie about how her and Genie’s mother were abused by white men, Nanny planted the seed of doubt In Genie’s head. Letting It seep in slowly would be too slow. Nanny needed to force this ideal into Genie’s mind, whether she likes it or not. It is apparent when after Jeanie is married off Nanny says “Taint no use in you crying’ Jeanie. Grandma does been long a few roads herself. But folks Is meant to cry bout something or other. Better leave things De way dye Is. House young yet.
No telling’ what mouth happen beef’ you die. Wait awhile baby, you mind will change” (Hurst 24). Jeanie explained to her grandmother that she was dissatisfied with her marriage, and her thought that love came out of marriage was shattered. No matter how terrible the loveless marriage should be, Nanny urged her to continue. Nanny was already set in the way that her own little girl can never be touched, that she should be kept on a podium and protected. Jeanie accepted the most influential Geiger in her life: Nanny and her opinions and took it to heart. However flawed it may be, she accepted It.
The distorted horizon that Jeanie now looked upon was unfulfilled for her, and she felt that it was unfair to force her ideals upon her, later, Jeanie realizes her true feelings for Nanny when she says “She hated her grandmother and had hidden it from herself all these years under a cloak of pity… .Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon – for not matter how far a person can go the horizon Is soul way beyond you – and pinched It In to such a little bit of a hint that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her.
She hated the old woman who had twisted her so in the name of love” (89). Jeanie feels that Nanny’s actions were unjustified, and that she shouldn’t have been so controlling as to take her own thoughts and dreams and defile them to the point where she thought that the entire world was against her. When Jeanie says “She hated her grandmother and had hidden it from herself all these years under a cloak of pity,” I OFF her from the start, but she was her only family member she knew, so no matter what ere opinions were, Jeanie had to at least accept them. Nanny used her position as her grandmother to change Jeanie.
As the woman who raised her, Nanny had large amounts of influence on Genie’s life. And as her grandmother, she had a emotional connection with Jeanie. Nanny used these two to get a foothold in Genie’s mind, and drop in her idea, no matter how demented it may be. Nanny loved Jeanie, and that was the problem. Nanny loved Jeanie too much. She believed that everything she did was in the name of love. In the name of love, Nanny destroyed Genie’s dream. In the name of love, Nanny decided to strangle Jeanie with her idea that you cannot trust anyone. In the name of love, Nanny hid Jeanie away from the world.
In the name of love, Nanny created a void in Genie’s heart. And in the name of love, Nanny slowly consumed Genie’s entire being. Nanny manipulated Jeanie by shoving ideas into her head, whereas Joe Starks, another influential character, forces Jeanie into submission by more direct measures. When Jeanie meets Joe Starks, he appears to be her knight in shining armor, promised a life of love, Jeanie is swept off her feet and rode off into the horizon, or so he thought. When Jeanie and Joe reach a new town, Joey’s ambitions grant him the title of mayor of the new town, Detonative. Joe becomes the alpha male of the town.
He runs the town, has the prettiest wife, and has the most money. Joe soon further shows his “alpha male” status by forcing Jeanie to stay silent and Just smile, be a trophy wife papers. Jeanie initially protests, but to no avail. Joe Starks shoots her down and absolutely dominates every aspect of Genie’s life. Joe forces Jeanie to do his bidding and has her work in the store with her beautiful hair up, because no other an would be allowed to see her hair, but Joe can’t say that, for that would be actually complimenting his wife, and that would mean he wasn’t as manly as everyone else thought!
Jeanie becomes more and more passive through the years, as shown when Hurst writes, “The years took all the fight out of Genie’s face. For a while she thought it was gone from her soul. No matter what Jody did, she said nothing” (76). Genie’s fire that once burned has slowly been choked to death. The relentless verbal and physical assault from Joe took years off of her life, it was no use n fighting back anymore. When Hurst says, “for a while she thought it was gone from her soul” shows how felt as if she has totally given up all hope of living her dream out.
Her life carries on, however, Joey’s health does not. Even in Joey’s weakness, he still desires to be in control. His horizon must stay in sight. He waits for the tides to come in, and does not have a real plan to keep things humane. This is apparent when Jeanie calls Joe out on his failing manhood, and being the alpha male, Joe muss retaliate in anyway possible. Anyway;ay, no matter how taboo. This is shown when Joe struck Jeanie with all his might and drove her from the store”(80).
When Joe does this, he is not only physically hitting Jeanie, but he is also dealing “the final blow. ” Joe knows that Jeanie is right about him, and his final struggle to stay in control is all in vain. No matter how much he beats or abuses Jeanie, he knows he will die soon, and Jeanie will live on. When he dies in the next chapter, he has known all along about how he wanted to be in control, how he did not love Jeanie anymore, but only felt the ownership over her. By using his position as the lead male, he is able to morph Jeanie
Jody was her hope of having a real marriage, so Jeanie let Joe change her in every way, hoping to cling to her idea of actually living out her horizon. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Genie’s Journey to reach her horizon is riddled with adversity and struggles. The people who appose her are the closest to her, the ones who are supposed to love her the most. Zorn Neal Hurst defines how the struggles are worth it in the end, for no matter how much manipulation, no matter how much abuse, no matter how much hatred others have for you. True happiness with find its way even in the dark of the ugliness.
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