Their Eyes Were Watching God Part 5: Janie's Quest
Instead of a quest for the Holy Grail, Janie is on a quest for self-discovery. Gotta be honest, the Grail quest sounds way more interesting. But...hey, to each their own.
|Literature||Their Eyes Were Watching God|
And as we think about all coming of age stories,
they are a quest. Some are journies out.
Prototype would be, I don't know,
teenagers on a boat exploring an island.
Swiss Family Robinson, [ indistinct ], whatever.
But it can also be a journey in,
and they're finding who they are.
Think Holden Caulfield's is really more of a journey in than a journey out.
In this case,
Janie is on a kind of quest
influenced by a lot of voices. And it's interesting to
place this in the context of a quest, because
we typically think of quests as being associated with
grail myth journeys, which are men.
And Odysseus is probably the ultimate prototype of quest.
So talk to us about that,
and her journey out and her journey in,
and contextually how it all kind of connects.
Sure. Janie's story is a quest and it is
a woman's quest. Like you said,
we have Odysseus, we have...
- Think of all of our modern day quests, even. - Luke.
Yeah, Luke, Frodo, et cetera.
It's almost always men, so
having a woman's quest,
especially at this time, published in 1937,
is really out of the box.
So one of the last things
that Janie tells Phoebe is that
"you gotta go there to know there."
And this is kind of one of the famous lines of the book.
Showing how the actual, physical
process of moving and changing
reflects the process of self-discovery.
So that kind of journey outward
quest that she has
is what allows her to also have the journey inward.
It's really a typical quest in many ways,
like we have in a fantasy novel.
The hero goes on an adventure,
encounters obstacles, meets interesting people,
fights a demon, gets some help,
and then wins a reward and comes back to the place of origin.
And we see this with Janie.
She goes out on her own,
lots of obstacles in the form of men,
finds some help along the way with Phoebe,
combats a lot of her demons,
and then returns to her place of origin,
because she ends up returning to Eatonville
after kind of going out to a lot of different places.
[ pen writing ]
In what way is Janie's story like a quest?
What similarities does her story share with other famous quests?
I think that's it. If you need anything else, let me know.