Thursday, October 16, 2014

Going, Going, Gone

In class we talked loosely about Jody's physical deterioration and the effect that had on his behavior towards Janie. As Jody's physical health deteriorates due to a combination of age, the luck of the draw (liver disease), and stubbornness (seeing the witch doctor lady instead of a medical doctor), Jody begins to lash out with increasing severity. Mr. Mitchell said something about the episode sadly making sense to us, and I agree with that. It reminds me very much of super old people who get very bitter when they realize that they can't do certain things on their own any more (drive, care for themselves, etc.).

In Jody's case it is even worse. Jody built his life around control and power, and slowly withering away must have really got to him. Right before he dies we see that he has completely lost control of one of the people he controlled best: Janie. Instead of Jody making Janie be quiet and listen to him, the tables have turned and Janie is telling Jody her mind whether he wants to hear it or not (he doesn't).

They are the final words that Jody Starks hears before he dies. Janie, finally free, casts off her hair binding and walks out of the house ready to find something (or someone) in life to make her happy. From the prologue I'm guessing that's going to be Tea Cake.

Why all the hating on Janie?

Today in 2nd hour's class (10/16) there was a lot of discussion about Janie. Most (if not all) speakers agreed--to an extent--that Janie was whiney and impulsive.

There is a scent of hypocrisy in the sense that, if Janie stayed with Logan and remained unhappy for the rest of her life shoveling manure, we would all be very sympathetic towards her and wish that she had made decisions in her life to escape such a situation that made her unhappy. Yet if she runs away from Logan (who, while he really isn't all that bad of a guy, Janie is certainly unhappy with) we all board the hate-train.

We also talked about the idea that Janie was running away from Logan more than she was running to be with Jody. I also disagree with this. I think it's equal part run from and run to. Jody met her in the woods and they talked for three days. Jody seems like the kind of guy that would be able to put on a mask and act very suave with the ladies. There's not doubt in my mind that at the end of those three days Janie felt like the Juliet and Jody seemed like her Romeo.

To anyone living in modern western society (where the ideal of loving your spouse is expected) it seems odd to me that we would criticize Janie running off from a situation in which she is genuinely unhappy to be with a guy that seems like a genuinely great guy. I know that she only knew him for a few days, but hell, he was leaving! She had to make a decision. It was a gamble that I definitely would have taken in Janie's shoes.

In any case, any amount of impulsiveness that she had before her marriage with Jody was soon extinguished (probably by Jody himself). For I'm sure that in her 20 or so year marriage with Jody there were ample opportunities that were presented or that could have been made by Janie to escape from her unhappy life in Eatonville.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jody's domineering nature building tension

(Up to chapter 7)

When we first met Jody I thought that he genuinely cared for Janie (naive maybe, but in the context of Janie's stale marriage with Logan I was hoping for a breath of fresh air). It was impossible to know  who Jody was until they got to Eatonville, and by then it was too late.

Jody didn't talk to Janie in the woods for three days because he loved her. He saw in Janie a possibility to advance himself. He saw a beautiful, proper lady... just what he pictured he would need as mayor of Eatonville (the mayor needs a stately wife). When the couple gets to Eatonville we see that he cares a lot about her image - she needs to be seen at the right places, she needs to play hostess correctly, she needs to say the right things (refrain from speaking in many cases), etc. Janie falls from a marriage that--while stale and uninteresting--was safe/stable to a marriage in which she is a prop to advance Jody's position in the community.

Janie is a part of Jody's quest for power. He is not cruel to Janie for no reason--it is just his view of the world and his quest for power that brings forth frustrated anger.

However we have begun to see the beginnings of rebellion in Janie (such as her speech at the end of chapter 6 and all the hints the narrator gives us that she was sad/tired of the marriage).

We know that Janie ends up with some guy named Tea Cake (from the prologue). It's only a matter of time until something blows, and the more egocentric that Jody becomes, the more tension is built.