According to Bernadette Devlin, “To gain which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else. ” In simpler terms,if one wants to acheive something that means a lot to them, they might just have to lose everything else they have. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, this quote rings true. Hurston shows that by using symbolism and a bit of irony throughout the story. As a young woman, Janie wanted love, true love. In the beginning of the novel and Janie’s journey, she is under a blossoming pear tree where she spends most of her days. She is watching the bees fly to the blossoms, when she has an epiphany. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid (11). ”
This is Janie’s idea of marriage. She believes that the sensation she felt is marriage and this is the feeling that she wants. She also believes that with marriage comes love and Janie looks forward to this feeling to come with marriage. This blossoming pear tree represents love and mentioned again later on in the novel. Soon Janie marries a man, named Logan Killicks, that her grandmother, Nanny, set her up with. A few days into the marriage, she confronts Nanny. But Nanny, Ah wants to want him sometimes. Ah don’t want to do all de wantin’ (23).
” Here Janie realizes that the feeling she’s been expecting to feel with Logan isn’t there, therefore there is no love. At this point in the novel, Zora Neale Hurston is illuminating what it is that Janie wants. After her revelation at the pear tree, Janie begins her her quest to find love and that feeling that comes with it, but in the process loses her agency. Still in the beginning of the book, Nanny has just told Janie of her plans for her to marry Logan and a few days before the ceremony, Janie is convincing herself that Nanny is right.
It states, “Yes she would come to love Logan after they were married. She could see no way for it to come about, but Nanny and the old folks had said it, so it must be so (21). ” Janie isn’t even fighting nor doubting Nanny on the notion. She’s giving in, thus having lost her agency. Nanny later dies, leaving Janie with Logan. Janie meets a man named Joe Starks who will later become her husband as soon as she leaves Logan, which she does. Her and Joe set off for a place in southern Florida, known as Eatonville. Joe becomes the mayor, while Janie has a job in the town store and the town thrives.
Towards the middle of the story, after Janie intrudes on one of Joe’s conversations on the store porch. She cooks him dinner, but unfortunately, the food wasn’t cooked the way Joe wanted it so he slapped her. Janie didn’t retaliate or cry, she just stood there: She had no more blossomy opening dusting over her man, neither any glistening fruits where the petals used to be. She found that she had lost a host of thoughts that she never expressed to him and numerous emotions she had never let Jody [Joe] know about. Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them.
She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen. (72) This quote shows that Janie no longer loves Joe. She has lost the feeling of love she had when she first met him. Ironically, she left Logan of her own agency but when she married Joe she lost her agency all over again. Given the evidence, Janie had lost her agency in the quest to find the feeling of love she’s searching for. Eventually Janie finds that feeling of love with a man named Vergible ‘Tea Cake’ Woods, whom she meets after Joe dies of kidney failure.
Janie first meets Tea Cake when he comes to the store where she works. Soon enough they fall in love, but not without the gossip of the townspeople. Janie and Tea Cake leave Eatonville, get married, and start life together down in the Everglades, or as it’s called in the novel, ‘The Muck’. During their stay in the muck, a hurricane passes through. As the wrath of the hurricane is beating down on Janie and Tea Cake’s home, he asks her if she regrets leaving Eatonville and coming with him and she earnestly responds, “Naw. We been tuhgether round two years.
If you kin see de light at daybreak, you don’t keer if you die at dusk. It’s so many people never seen de light at all. Ah wuz fumblin’ round and God opened de door (159). ” This shows, Janie does not regret giving up her easy life in Eatonville to face obstacles and hardships with the one she truly loves. She also believes that Tea Cake was heaven sent. In fact, the hurricane symbolizes obstacle, so essentially it was a test it was a test on the strength of Janie and Tea Cake’s love. Unfortunately, they couldn’t stay in the house for long so they took to hiking to Palm Beach for safety.
During their progression to Palm Beach, Tea Cake gets attacked by a vicious dog while trying to save Janie. They get to Palm Beach, but don’t stay long and end up going back the Everglades. When they get home Tea Cake becomes sick, and when they go to the doctor it turns out that Tea Cake has a serious case of rabies. The disease is making him delirious and irrational. He even tries to kill Janie, but Janie kills him first. “It was the meanest moment of eternity. A minute before she was just a scared human being fighting for its life.
Now she was her sacrificing self with Tea Cakes head in her lap. She had wanted him to life so much and he was dead (184). ” Here Janie has experienced her greatest loss. The one that given her that feeling of love, the one she had been searching for, is dead by her own hand, which is ironic because what she had with Tea Cake was what she had wanted and given up everything else for. Although sad, it was a loss to gain which was most valuable. When all was said and done Janie gained what she wanted and more. Now Janie is back in Eatonville talking to her best friend, Pheoby.
Janie has just finished telling her story and says, “It’s a known fact Pheoby, You got tuh go there, tuh know there. Yo’ papa and yo’ mama and nobody else can’t tell yuh and show yuh. Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh find God and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves (192). ” Janie realizes that one can’t live for anyone else. People have to live their own lives and make choices for themselves. Janie gained that knowledge, experience of life; making her own decisions and facing it’s consequences, and the satisfaction of finding that feeling of love she had been searching for.
All in all, as stated by Bernadette Devlin, “To gain which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else. ” If one wants to achieve something that means a lot to them, they might just have to lose everything else they have. Even though Janie lost her grandmother and both her husbands, but through that she gained fulfillment of what it was she wanted and as well as knowledge and experience. Like Janie, by going after what it is one wants and knowing the possibility of losing everything else in the hopes of getting it, but also gaining more than they expected.