AFRS 129: African American Literary Classics @ Fresno State, 10 am MWF
DE Journal 2 due to Eli Review on 9/24, review feedback due 9/26. Hard copy in class due 9/29! (note quicker turnaround!) - 500 words
Name: Sample 1
Option 2. Analyze personal empowerment and Janie's growth as a person in Their Eyes Were Watching God. What struggles did she face not just as a woman, but as a Black woman in the South during segregation? (tip: consider her grandmother’s account of family history!)
Choose 2 or 3 short quotes/passages and copy them on the left side. Write your reflection on the right side. Please include your word count at the end of your writing, and choose 2 or 3 passages that relate to each other in order to build evidence.
Quote 1: “Logan was accussing her of her mamma, her grandmama and her feelings, and she couldn’t do a thing about any of it... A felling of sudden newness and chage came over her. Janie hurried out of the front gate and turned south. Even if Joe was not there waiting for her, the change was bound to do her good.” (p. 32)
Quote 2: “... So us is goin’ off somewhere and start all over in Tea Cake’s way. Dis ain’t no business proposition, and no race after property and titles. Dis is uh love game. Ah done lived Grandma’s way, now ah means tuh live mine.... She was borned in slavery time when folks, dat is black folks, didn’t sit down anytime dey felt lak it. So sittin’ on porches lak de white madam looked lak uh mighty fine thing tuh her. Dat’s what she wanted for me--don’t keer whut it cost. Git up on uh high chair and sit dere. She didn’t have time tuh think whut tuh do after you got up on de stool uh do nothing’. De object wuz tuh git dere. So ah got up on de high stool lak she told me, but Pheoby, ah done nearly languished tuh death up dere. Ah felt like de world wuz cryin’ extry and ah ain’t read de common news yet.” (p. 114)
Quote 3: “Now, Pheoby, don’t feel too mean wid de rest of ‘em ‘cause dey’s parched up from not knowin’ things. Dem meatskins is got tuh rattle tuh make out they’s alive.... listenin’ tuh dat kind uh talk is jus’ lak openin’ yo’ mouth and lettin’ de moon shine down yo’ throat... You got tuh go there tuh know there... Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.” (p. 192)
Even though Janie had tried to convince herself that she could live the life that her grandmother wanted for her, she had had enough of the insults and acusations that her husband Logan was throwing at her. She had all the motivation she needed, and the “sudden newness and change” gave her the incentive to find the power inside her to run away. It didn’t matter to her whether or not Joe was waiting for her, she needed change and she wasn’t going to wait any longer or hear anymore insults, instead she wanted to go out and experience what that new feeling of change could do for her.
In leaving, it was as though Janie wanted to leave her history behind her. She wanted to be somewhere with someone who didn’t know about all the sufferings and hardship that her family had gone through so that it couldn’t be used against her the way that Logan had so harshly done. She wanted to be free; not free in the sense that her grandmother would have thought, but free from the inter-racial oppression of being a black woman under the rule of a black man.
In this passage there’s a great contrast in the dreams of two different generations. On the one hand, the grandmother dreams of a life different from what she had known as a slave. She [Nanny] had lived a rough life as a slave, and had barely escaped torture when she found herself a freed woman. So she saw and consider “sittin’ on porches lak de white madam” the ultimate way of life because it was perceived as a luxury that only white women can indulge in; It was as if getting her grandaughter “up on uh high chair” would put her in a high place where she would be safe from the cruelty of the world; a place where she can be seen, but not touched or spoiled the hands of man or the cruelty of life.
Janie on the other hand had tried to live the way that her grandmother wanted, but did not find any satisfaction in it. She had possessions that she didn’t care for, and she still felt deprived of the essential (or what she perceived as essential) thing in life.
She had lived through two loveless marriages, and in both marriages she had found herself living out the dreams of someone else instead of her own. She felt isolated from the world and wanted to experience everything that life had to offer. She was now old enough and wise enough to realized what she wanted out of life; she had the power and the readiness to live the life that she wanted and in the form and manner that pleased her, and not anyone else.
After everything that Janie had gone through, she understood what it was like to live life for everything that it is, as well as she had knoww what it was like to live on the sidelines while life passed her by. For that, she felt sympathetic with the people of her town who would do nothing but sit on porches and talk. Janie is very much like Fredrick Douglass who -once understood what it was like to be literate- felt sorry for the rest of his race who knew nothing about life but to listen and obey the orders of their masters. She had known what it was like to live an empty life without experiencing anything, and she knew that the people in her town talked and gossiped as an attempt to feel something -anything- other than the years of their lives withering away. She explains that ‘you’ll never know what living is like just by hearing people describe it to you, you have to experience it for yourself to really know it’.