Sacrifice is necessary to find oneself and to progress as a person and as a society
Janie's self progression
Janie and Nanny
Janie and Logan
In the text Nanny exclaims "Every tear you drop squeezes a cup uh blood outa mah heart" (Hurston 15). Nanny finds herself in the difficult situation of figuring out how to take care of her granddaughter but finds that the way to do so is to give her away to a man even though deep down she knows that she should not have to do that to protect her. Janie struggles with the idea of having to give her own needs away to be safe but does it to please her Nanny. This is the first step that Janie takes on her journey to being a free woman.
In the book Janie thinks to herself "She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman" (Hurston 35). In this part of the book Janie struggles with accepting that despite her more free childhod, the world does not treat her the way that her Nanny treated her ad she comes to realize that she does not like or accept the role of house wife she has been forced into. Rather than her step into womanhood being getting married, she finds her womanhood when she accepts that she will never be happy with Logan or with any man that does not treat her as an equal.
Discovering that she thinks the key to love is figuring out how to change herself to make the relationship work
Janie and Mule
Jody and Janie
In the book Janie struggles with her own identity but finds similarities in the mule in the town that she lives in. In the book In the book Janie observes as "Five or sic men left the porch and surrounded the fractious beast, goosing him in the sides and making him show his temper. But he had more spirit left than body. He was soon panting and heaving from the effort of spinning his old carcass about. Everybody was having fun at the mule-baiting. All but Janie" (Hurston 56). This is a big step towards Janie finding her own self worth and sense of being as she starts to see how the men in the town treat a mule the same way that they do women and it makes her take further steps towards being free of that type of men for her life such as her husband Jody.
As Janie makes her way further into her marriage with Jody she begins to realize that his cruelness towards her does not have to do with his lack of love for her but rather a lack of respect for women and other human beings as a whole which teaches her a lesson about how she needs to stop depending on men and rather needs to depend on herself but with the company of men if wanted. This is seen when Janie realizes "She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it was never the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she grabbed up to drape her dreams over.... 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. She had an inside and outside now and suddenly she knew hot not to mix them" (Hurston 72).
Janie and Tea Cake
Janie without Tea Cake
When Janie meets Tea Cake a version of her emerges where the version of herself that she kept inside comes out and thrives because Tea Cake treats her as an equal and as a partner rather than as a person for convenience. He buys her beautiful things and they dance and have parties that truly embody how truly alive Janie feels with Tea Cake. Tea Cake is able to mix the inside and outside that was mentioned on page 72 and Janie finds herself seeing nature as a beautiful place to be with Tea Cake rather than as a place to escape her thoughts. The symbol of the hair is also prevalent with Tea Cake when he plays with her hair rather than making her cover it up as written in "She woke up to Tea Cake combing her hair" (Hurston 103)
After Janie kills Tea Cake there is a shift in her personality that goes from being very dreamy, unrealistic, and beautiful to a more realistic aura. With Tea Cake she felt like she could be herself and although they had problems, she never felt like she had to be anything other than herself without question and when he dies she still has that sense of self worth but the ability to block out the ugly truths of society fighting against her fade and she finds herself more free than she ever has been but she also finds herself feeling more aware of how the world does not have a lot of men like Tea Cake and she comes to realize that she has to live her life in the way he did but without him. This is expressed when Janie thinks to herself "The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish net" (Hurston 193)
In conclusion, the story started with a very confused and lonely Janie and as she went through her different marriages and the experiences she did not just learn life lessons but rather found herself and her sense of self worth and importance. She experiences three different types of men in her life and figures out that she does not need any of them like her Nanny had taught her. The journey that Janie went on was very difficult for her but it also forced her to meet herself and to fall in love with herself and "her horizon" (Hurston 193). The ending was extremely powerful as she said goodbye to the love of her life but it was more powerful as she said goodbye to the version of herself that held on to men and onto the ideal of finding a man that would take care of her forever. Janie sacrificed many things including husbands and her own needs at times but ended with figuring out how she wanted to live her life.