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Their Eyes Were Watching Hair

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Throughout the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, a woman named Janie Crawford experiences many difficulties and has to persevere through them. Despite Janie's rough life, she still possesses a highly important symbolic figure: her marvelous hair. As she matures during the novel, Janie's hair acted as a crucial symbol that exemplified her true identity and consisted of three main concepts: her beauty, strength, and her freedom. In novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston displays Janie's hair as a recurring symbol within the novel.

Janie's hair played a significant role in representing her true beauty as her life progressed. The only time she could show her true beauty was when she could let her hair down. Ever since the beginning of the story, Janie's long, luscious, and black hair consistently exhibits how men have a strong affection for it. "Why, Tea Cake? Whut good do combin' mah hair do you? It's mah comfortable, not yourn." "It's mine too. Ah ain't been sleepin' so good for more'n uh week cause Ah been wishin' so bad tuh git mah hands in yo' hair. It's so pretty. It feels jus' lak underneath uh dove's wing next to mah face." (Hurston 103). Tea Cake is attracted to Janie's hair and he enjoys touching it. Janie's hair served as a pleasure for him to touch because of her extraordinary hair. The quotes also served as an example of a man in the book who falls in love with Janie and her hair. However, during Janie's marriage with her second husband Joe Starks, she is forced to tie her hair up with a head rag because Joe's dominance feels threatened and that her hair's feminine beauty makes him fear that she will leave him.

This business of the head-rag irked her endlessly. But Jody was set on it. Her hair was NOT going to show in the store. It didn't seem sensible at all. That was because Joe never told Janie how jealous he was. He never told her how often he had seen the other men figuratively wallowing in it as she went about things in the store. And one night he had caught Walter standing behind and brushing the back of his hand back and forth across the loose end of her braid ever so lightly so as to enjoy the feel of it without Janie knowing what he was doing. Joe was at the back of the store and Walter didn't see him. He felt like rushing forth with the meat knife and chopping off the offending hand. That night he ordered Janie to tie up her hair around the store. That was all. She was there in the store for him to look at, not those others. (Hurston 55)

This quoted scene in the novel depicts how Joe forces Janie to tie one of her greatest displays of womanhood, and hide her true beauty as a beautiful woman. During Janie's first marriage with Logan Killicks, his old and unappealing figure was sharply contrasted with Janie's angelic hair that deeply expressed her beauty. "His belly is too big too, now, and his toe-nails look lak mule foots."(Hurston 24). The quote displays how Logan unattractiveness is genuinely contrasted with Janie's elegant hair. Not only does Janie's hair represent her beauty, but also how her hair is used to give her the strength to endure her trails.

Janie's hair is what makes her unique and special in society. Her long, luscious, and black hair and is primarily a feminine trait, which reinforces women's power opposed to men's. It is what most of the men characters notice right away about her appearance and are very attracted to it. Joe Starks tries to take away her power and freedom by having her tie up her hair. In contrast, Teacake loves everything about Janie's



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