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Does Nanny Help or Hurt Janie?

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Introduction

Does Nanny Help or Hurt Janie? The novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston takes place in 1928 in the southwest United States. Throughout the novel, Janie, the protagonist seeks her horizon or her major goals in life. Janie wants to find what she calls "pear tree love", in other words Janie wants to fall in love with the right man and live happily ever after. Nanny, a minor opening character raises Janie and she wants the best for her. She attempts to set up Janie's life by outlining an unrealistic lifestyle. Janie detests her grandmother for making certain choices about Janie's life. By the end of the novel, Janie comes to realize that everything Nanny did for Janie was for a good reason. Nanny appears to create misery for Janie by constricting Janie's potential; however she truly enhances Janie's character and helps her create a new horizon. Nanny makes Janie's life miserable by making her marry Logan Killicks because she feels that Janie needs protection. ...read more.

Middle

She will then have some money and he will be able to keep her content. So as time passes, Janie meets Jody Starks, who represents everything that Nanny taught Janie. Jody becomes the mayor of the town Eatonville and opens a general store and makes a lot of money. Janie seems happy until Jody becomes extremely domineering and refers to himself as god (36). It gets even worse when Jody begins to tell Janie what she can and cannot do. Janie thinks that Nanny's teachings are wrong. The narrator explains, "Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon...and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that [Nanny] could tie it around her granddaughter's neck tight enough to choke her" (89). Everything that Nanny told Janie becomes wrong during Janie's time with Jody. He makes her life miserable. On one hand he provided for her and he gave her expensive gifts but on the other hand he was a vicious controlling monster that in the end took advantage of Janie. ...read more.

Conclusion

This new horizon can be related to all of Nanny's teachings. Tea Cake provides for her and he makes her happy. Tea Cake demonstrates exactly what Nanny wants for Janie. Nanny's short appearance at the beginning, affects Janie throughout the novel. The decisions that Janie makes, comes from Nanny teachings. She chose to hate Nanny for the pain of being with Logan. He tries to turn Janie into a spit cup and a mule. Nanny teaches Janie that men should respect women and when the relationship between Janie and Logan got bad, Janie had the sense to leave. Nanny also tries to constrict Janie's horizon, but at the same time Nanny's advice helps Janie create a new horizon. Nanny's teachings show Janie that there lies more in life than just "pear tree love" (11). Originally, Nanny's guidance made Janie upset and angry, but as time went on, Janie finally understood her grandmother's approach on life. Eventually, Janie followed Nanny's words, and because of that, Janie's life became everything that she wanted. ...read more.

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