Problems begin in a dutiful marriage: My thoughts on Chapter 5 of Their Eyes Were Watching God
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, the characters, Janie and Joe are wife and husband, but the way they interact with one another seems to say otherwise. A married couple stands at a equal height, but in Janie‘s case, she seems to be put down to a lower level by Joe.
Janie’s marriage with Joe wasn’t built on love, it seems to have been built on a type of bond, called responsibility. Joe needs a wife, and Janie needs a dream. They fulfill one another. Joe wants to be a somebody, therefore he would need a nice looking wife, a wife that he can be proud to show to others. Janie lost hope in her marriage with Logan, she placed her bid on Joe not knowing that she is really searching for love.
The problems begin to appear in this dutiful marriage when Joe decides to put himself at a higher level and tries to control Janie. An example of this is on page 61 when Joe answered for his wife saying:
“Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh woman and her place it in de home.”
He denied Janie’s right to speak for herself, because he is afraid she’ll make a fool of herself and make him look bad. At the same time Joe degraded his wife by saying “her place is in the house”.
Joe doesn’t seems to care about the marriage as much as Janie. On page 64, Janie was worried that they won’t be able to spend enough time with one another with all the future duties they have, Joe simply replied with:
“I god, Ah ain’t even started good. Ah told you in de very first beginnin’ dat Ah aimed tuh be uh big voice. You oughta be glad, ‘cause dat makes uh big woman outa you”.
I'd like to expand on Janie’s reaction to the Joe’s act on page 61 where he took over and spoke for her, saying that she isn’t suited for making a speech. I think Janie probably felt very disappointed in her heart, because of what is said on page 61: “...but anyhow, she went down the road behind him that night feeling cold.” Janie let Joe push her around. The town people have stated that he is always making a big fuss over little mistakes she makes, and she doesn’t say anything back.