Janie develops as a woman with the three marriages she has. In each marriage she learns valuable lessons, has progressively better relationships, and realizes how a person is to live his/her life. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie’s marriages to Logan Killicks, Jody Starks, and Tea Cake are the most crucial elements in her development as a woman. Janie’s marriage to Logan Killicks was the first stage in her development as a woman.
She hoped that her forced marriage with Logan would end her loneliness and desire for love. Right from the beginning, the loneliness in the marriage shows up when Janie sees that his house is a “lonesome place like a stump in the middle of the woods where nobody had ever been” (20). This description of Logan’s house is symbolic of the relationship they have. Janie eventually admits to Nanny that she still does not love Logan and cannot find anything to love about him.
“She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman” (24). Janie’s prayer is her final plea for a change in her life. She says “Lawd, you know mah heart. Ah done de best Ah could do. De rest is left to you” (23).
Janie’s prayer is answered with her next husband, Jody Starks. He is the man who fills the voids of loneliness and love, and continues her development as a woman. When they first met, Janie was convinced that Jody believed she was a very special person because of the compliments he gave her. For two weeks, before they married, they talked and Janie believed that Jody “spoke for change and chance” (28). The problem Janie had with Jody was that he did not treat her as equal. He would not let her speak in front of people, teach her to play checkers, or participate in other events.
Janie notices the problem early in the relationship and confronts Jody about it when she says “it jus’ looks lak it keeps us in some way we ain’t natural wid one ‘nother. You’se always off talkin’ and fixin’ things, and Ah feels lak Ah’m jus’ markin time. Hope it soon gits over” (43). Janie realizes that she cannot be open with Jody and that he is not the same man she ran off with to marry.
Jody has many of his own interests, and none of them are concerned with Janie. “She found out that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him . . . She was saving up feelings for some man that she had never seen” (68).
Jody only gave material goods to Janie. She knew she was missing something in her life, and that is how she realizes the next man she meets is perfect for her. Her development as a woman is complete after living and learning with Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods. Tea Cake is the catalyst for the final stage of development of Janie as a woman. From Tea Cake, Janie learns to love and what it feels like to be loved. Tea Cake not only made Janie feel special with his words, but proved it as well by taking her fishing, hunting, to the movies, dancing, gardening with her, and other “signs of possession” (105).
For a while, Janie and Tea Cake worked the fields together. For the first time in her life, Janie is enjoying life. She says “. . . we ain’t got nothin’ tuh do but do our work and come home and love” (127).
Eventually Tea Cake dies and Janie goes back to Eatonville. From her marriage with Tea Cake, Janie experienced love. This is something she believes very few people have experienced. Janie’s marriage with Tea Cake finishes her development as a woman.
Janie clearly progressed in her development as a woman through the three marriages she had. Logan Killicks was her starting place. From him, she learned that she was missing love. Joe Starks gave her what she thought was love.
It was only a show to win her over, which eventually gave way to his ulterior motives of building himself a name. His death gave Janie a new chance. Tea Cake was given the privilege of being the next to marry Janie. He taught her what love was. Although Janie became a woman when her first dream was broken, she completed her growth as a person when she learned about love.