In and then ultimately finds her romantic partner

In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, the protagonist Janie Crawford embarks on her journey of finding her one true soulmate. Janie yearns to live a life filled with genuine love and happiness. In her quest to obtain true love, Janie navigates her way through two failed marriages to Logan Killicks and Jody Starks, and then ultimately finds her romantic partner in Tea Cake. Although two of Janie’s marriages are unsuccessful, all three of them are important for shaping her identity as a strong heroine and to show her what she needs in a soulmate.Janie’s first experience with marriage is with Logan Killicks, a significantly older farmer who owned many acres of land. Janie is a product of rape between a black school girl and a white teacher, while her Nannie was forced into a relationship with her white master and endured the Civil War. As a result of all the hardships her family has encountered, Nannie desires a financially secure and respectable marriage for Janie. She is more concerned with Janie officially getting married than getting involved with unpredictable romance. Since Janie wants to make her Nannie proud, she is pressured into marrying Logan. While the union is surely honorable and principled, Janie found that as much as she tries, she cannot make herself love Logan. She comes to the realization that you cannot not simply grow to love someone, especially in a marriage. In the quote “She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman” (Hurston 3.31), Janie learns that she is not satisfied being the wife of wealthy landholder and that she cannot live her life yearning for romance and being told what to do. Janie leaves Logan behind to try and find true love elsewhere with a new vision of what she wants out of a romantic relationship.When Janie meets Jody Starks, she truly thinks that she has found the love of her life. After her failed unintimate relationship with Logan, Janie is entranced by the attention Jody gives her by complimenting her physical beauty and his evident charisma. Janie is compelled to Jody’s enterprising success and his magnetic charm. She is ultimately too blinded by the prospects of entering a genuine romantic relationship with him to see him for the jealous, arrogant, and sexist man that he is. Janie soon finds out that Jody sees her as his “trophy wife” instead of his equal in the relationship and that he ranks materialistic wealth and possession above her. When Jody becomes mayor, he displays his true feelings about Janie when he says to the entire crowd, “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 is in de home” (Hurston 5.107-109). In her marriage to Jody, Janie is suffocated by the control he has over her. For example, he forces her to stay silent, she cannot acquaint herself with the locals, and she has to cover her lustrous hair. Janie is paraded around as Jody’s accessory as he seeks to isolate her from the rest of the world. As a result, Janie’s personality is minimized as she became quiescent under Jody’s dominance. Ultimately, when he passes away, Janie gains back the freedom and power that she lost during their inequitable union. Janie reclaims her identity when she says, “Ah knowed you wasn’t gointuh lissen tuh me. You changes everything but nothin’ don’t change you- not even death. But Ah ain’t goin’ outa here and Ah ain’t gointuh hush. Naw, you gointuh listen tuh me one time befo’ you die” (Hurston 86). Janie is able to walk away from her second marriage with the knowledge that she is more than merely an accessory to her partner, and that she deserves to be valued.When Janie meets Tea Cake, the true love of her life, she notices the obvious chemistry that they share, but she has more reservations about entering a new relationship. After her second marriage, Janie is much more weary and careful about protecting her heart and her mind. Tea Cake is twelve years younger than Janie, he does not seem so dependable, and his economic status if different than she is used to, but little by little he shows Janie that he could truly be a reliable and loving life partner. He treats her as an equal in the relationship, and gives her the affection that both of her previous husbands did not provide. This helps Janie realize that she really is in love with him and that can envision a genuinely happy and fulfilled life with Tea Cake. He respects Janie as an equal partner, which is evident when the couple works together: “So the very next morning Janie got ready to pick beans along with Tea Cake…There was a suppressed murmur when she picked up a basket and went to work…Then Tea Cake would help get supper afterwards” (Hurston 14.27). Janie and Tea Cake experience life together as each other’s soulmates and life partners until Tea Cake is bitten by a dog infested with rabies. This deadly poison that Tea Cake is afflicted with brings out the little jealousy that he has and turns him into an unrecognizable monster. Janie ends up having to kill him out of self-defense. While Janie and Tea Cake’s marriage ends tragically, Janie does not blame herself for the outcome. As she mourns her beloved’s death, she focuses on keeping Tea Cake’s memory with her. In her marriage to Tea Cake, Janie truly learns how to deeply and fully love a person, and she feels gratitude towards him for allowing her to experience the type of love that she has always yearned for. In Janie’s quest to find love, she ends up learning a lot about her role and identity as a strong, deserving, and equal woman in her romantic relationships. Janie’s marriage to Logan helps her to come to the conclusion that she cannot simply grow to love someone romantically, while the domination Jody has over her teaches her that she is more than an accessory to a man and that she deserves to be treated equally. Finally, Tea Cake, Janie’s one true love teaches her that it is far better to have loved and lost love than never to have loved at all.