Domestic Violence Essay Example

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women aged 18 and older in the United States have been a victim of severe physical violence by their intimate partner. Physical violence is a low key issue that happens to so many people every single minute. I believe it is an issue that needs to be addressed and put to an end. There are too many people out there thinking it is okay to take advantage of others not only for pleasure or sexual desire but also from wanting to feel powerful. In the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston illustrated Janie’s marriage as the three stages of domestic violence and shows women can free themselves and prove that they can get out of a bad relationship.

Janie’s first marriage to Logan symbolizes the first stage of domestic violence, tension building. Shortly after Janie and Logan get married, they move to a farm and begin their life together. Sooner than later, Logan starts to change towards Janie: “Ah just as good as take you out de white folks’ kitchen and set you down on yo’ royal diasticutis and you take and low-rate me! Ah’ll take holt uh dat ax and come in dere and kill yuh! You better dry up in dere!” (Hurston 31-32). This quote signifies that Logan provided her with so much more. When Hurston says; “Ah just as good as take you out de white folks’ kitchen and set you down on yo’ royal diasticutis” she is giving an example of verbal abuse of what Logan says to Janie. The quote means that Janie should be thankful that Logan got her out of being a slave for a white family and that he provided a royal life for her ass, and she continues to talk poorly about him. Logan shows his temper when threatening Janie with an ax and threatening to murder her for her lack of gratitude.

Logan went as far as including her family during his yelling: “Logan was accusing her of her mamma, her grandmamma and her feelings and she couldn’t do a thing about any of it” (Hurston 32). The word “accused” means to claim someone has done something wrong. So the way the author uses this word, makes Janie feel like she’s at fault for her actions. The authors usage of syntax when using the repetition of “and” shows that Logan is stacking up all the women that Janie loves, and is showing she is taking on a bad trait with her. Another phrase the author uses is “couldn’t do a thing about any of it,” shows that Janie feels powerless. She knows that anything she does won’t fix the way Logan acts towards her. These quotes provide the information to prove the verbal abuse that Logan starts to develop towards Janie. When Logan says “he is going to murder her with an ax” when she doesn't do what he says, saying she is spoiled, ungrateful and making involving her own family to make her feel powerless. While combining two different texts on page 31: “ You don’t need mah help out dere, Logan. Youse in yo place and Ah’m in mine” “Mah mamma didn’t tell me Ah waz born in no hurry. So whut business Ah got rushin’ now?” (Hurston 31) Janie finally has a backbone. When Hurstin says: “Youse in yo place and Ah’m in mine” it helps the audience see that Janie is finally talking back to Logan. Janie is taking a stand by saying that Logan’s job is to take care of the outside and fields while Janie’s job is to stay inside, clean and cook. Then the phrases “Mah mamma didn’t tell me Ah waz born no hurry” and “So what business Ah got rushin’ now?” shows how annoyed she is starting to get. Janie is telling Logan that her mom never made her rush, so why would she rush now for him, when he needs help with his own job? The second quote is on page 32: “The morning road air was like a new dress. That made her feel the apron tied around her waist. She untied it and flung it on a low bush beside the road and walked on, picking flowers and making a bouquet. After that she came to where Joe Starks was waiting for her” (Hurston 32). The usage of a simile helps create the image of freedom for the reader. Janie is finally happy and feels free from her bad relationship with Logan, then starts her journey with a new man. While bringing two different quotes together on pages 31 and 32 helps show women that it is possible to leave an abusive relationship. With the phrase choice of “the morning road air was like a new dress” comes across as a “breath of fresh air” showing that she feels like she can breath again and live how she wants to live. Also “picking flowers and making a bouquet” shows all the things Janie is allowed to do now that she is out of her relationship with Logan and doesn't have to stay in the kitchen. Unfortunately the reader thought she was finished with being abused, but ended up in an even worse relationship.

Janie’s second marriage to Joe (Jody) symbolizes the second stage of domestic violence, manipulation and then abuse. After the tension building with Logan, Janie ended up running away with Jody. A man she thought was different, only to realize he was worse. Janie starts to give up hope as she continues to get traumatized, “After that night Jody moved his things and slept in a room downstairs. He didn’t really hate Janie, but he wanted her to think so” (Hurston 81). This quote is significant because it shows how far Jody is willing to go to make Janie feel bad. When the author said; “he didn’t really hate Janie, but he wanted her to think so.” It means he is guilt tripping her, which is manipulation. The word “hate” means to feel intense or to passionately dislike someone, and Joe wants Janie to feel like he strongly dislikes her.

Throughout all of the manipulation Joe started to get physical: “The years took all of the fight out of Janie’s face. For a while she thought it was gone from her soul” (Hurston 76) Deep down this quote means that she has started to give up and just go with the flow. It also shows that Jody continues to physically abuse her and it is physically changing her image of herself. How you know is when the author says “For a while she thought it was gone from her soul. The word choice of fight, shows that she no longer believes things will get better and Jody will continue to get worse and worse with her. The quotes provided give examples of both manipulation and abuse throughout Janie’s second marriage. Janie has finally reached her threshold with Joe: “You gointuh listen tuh me one more time befo’ you die. Have yo’ way all yo’ life, trample and mash down and then die ruther than tuh let yo’self heah ‘bout it. Listen, Jody, you aint de Jody ah run off down de road wid. You'se whut's left after he died. Ah run off tuh keep house wid you in uh wonderful way. But you wasn't satisfied wid me de way Ah was. Naw! Mah own mind had tuh be squeezed and crowded out tuh make room for yours in me" (Hurston 86). The words “trample” and “mash down” both mean to crush. The author was saying that the only thing Joe wanted to do was crush and take control of everything and everyone else. When Janie said: “Mah own mind had tuh be squeezed and crowded out tuh make room for yours in me” she is implying that Joe wanted complete control over Janie’s voice and mind. From the word choice of squeezed and crowded, it provides an image to the audience of how much she went through, mentally while being in this marriage. She made it obvious to Joe that she knows what he was trying to accomplish. Secondly: “The young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place. She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair. The weight, the length, the glory was there. She took careful stock of herself, then combed her hair and tied it back up again. Then she starched and ironed her face, forming it into just what people wanted to see, and opened up the window and cried, "Come heah people! Jody is dead. Mah husband is gone from me"(Hurston 87). The usage of “The young girl was gone and a handsome women had taken her place” allows the audience to see that the fragile Janie she used to be, has transformed into a woman that is now understanding, women should not be treated that way. She finally feels free and we see that when it says “She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair.” When Hurston said: “She starched and ironed her face, forming it into just what people wanted to see, and opened up the window and cried” Janie put on a show. When she said “forming it into just what people wanted to see” shows it was just an act. Janie is glad that Joe is dead, and she no longer has to deal with the pain anymore. Bringing these two last quotes together show how a women can stand up for herself and end up leaving. Though, in this situation Joe ended up passing away which is how Janie ended up becoming free.

Throughout her marriage with Joe she maxed out on what she wanted to deal with in a relationship. Janie gives many examples of developing a voice and standing up for herself. For starters: “You gointuh listen tuh me one more time befo’ you die.” Secondly: “The young girl was gone and a handsome women had taken her place.” These are both examples of Janie freeing herself by her voice then being free once her husband is dead. Finally free and going back home, she runs into a familiar man named Tea Cake. All is very well in the begining with love and excitement, to only realize this relationship is probably the worst one yet.

Janie’s third marriage symbolizes another example of physical abuse, just like her previous marriage with Joe, Janie also deals with beatings during this marriage. After Joe passed away Janie made her way back home and made a connection with Tea Cake. After her and Tea Cake got married it was like rainbows and butterflies then all of a sudden, “Mrs. Turner’s brother came and she brought him over to be introduced, Tea Cake had a brainstorm. Before the week was over he whipped Janie” (Hurston 147). From the way the author uses the word “brainstorm” it means a moment unable to think clearly or act sensibly. So this shows that Tea Cake just went crazy, and ended up beating his wife because he was insecure and worried that she would go and cheat on him. So he decided to beat her to make a statement to the Turner’s to show them that he was the boss of Janie. After his breakdown he still didn’t seem satisfied; “No brutal beating at all. He just slapped her around a bit to show he was boss” (Hurston 147). Hurston uses strong language in this sentence by using the words “brutal”, “beating” and “boss.” The definition of “brutal” means violent, which helps emphasize how Tea Cake did abuse her, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have gotten. But Hurston did say Tea Cake “slapped her around” which also helps the audience see that it happened more than once. The word “beating” means punishment and the word “boss” means the person in charge. That being said, Tea Cake thought Janie needed a punishment to show dominance in the relationship over his own jealousy. Both of these quotes provide the information to show how Janie’s third marriage was revolved around physical violence. Janie’s way out to freedom: “The pistol and the rifle rang out almost together. The pistol just enough after the rifle to seem its echo. Tea cake crumbled as his bullet buried itself in the joist over Janie’s head. Janie saw the look on his face and leaped forward as he crashed forward in her arms. She was trying to hover him as he closed his teeth in the flesh or her forearm. They came down heavily like that. Janie struggled to a sitting position and preid the dead Tea Cake’s teeth from her arm” (Hurston 184). Tea Cake has been lashing out due to being infected by rabies. It got to the point that he had a loaded gun and was waiting to kill Janie, until she noticed the gun with three empty chambers she changes it to shoot those three first. First, when Hurston explains how “the pistol and the rifle rang out almost together” she was referring that one more shot and Janie would’ve gotten shot. Secondly Tea Cake still tried to kill Janie: “She was trying to hover him as he closed his teeth in the flesh or her forearm” he tried to bite her and give her rabies, it just happened that he ended up dying before doing serious damage.

Throughout the Novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zoele Hurston uses her own definition of the different types of domestic violence and uses them to set an example for her audience. This allows her audience to connect to Janie on a new level if they are or have gone through a bad relationship and allows them to know they are not alone and can get out of it.

I believe the issue if domestic violence needs to be seen and heard a lot more because people should not have to deal with being involved of such a horrible relationship. It is not that easy to get up and leave, according to the According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline people stay in abusive relationships out of fear, feeling ashamed and believing that abuse is normal. People fear what their partner will do if they try and leave. They feel like it’s their fault that their partner is becoming abusive. Also, some people may not even know the signs of an abusive relationship or they’ve grown up being abused and they see this as normal. There needs to be more education on abusive relationships. To help people understand what is right and what isn’t, to help look for red flags of a relationship starting to turn from good to bad. There are thousands of people that are traumatized for the rest of their lives. But there are some people, that even end up dying because their intimate partner ends up killing them out of anger. I believe we need to take action now, to help those in need. To help people get out or escape. To show them that there are other options instead of suffering, and what they’re going through is not okay. Because I didn’t have those options, I stayed and stayed, until I gave up and left in fear of what would happen. And sometimes you get lucky and the person does nothing. They just get over it and find someone else to harp on. That is what happened to me, I left and luckily nothing very serious happened. I was 14 going on 15 years old when that happened. I didn’t know what red flags to look for or anything. So if we give people the opportunity to learn and be educated on this topic, then people will know exactly what to look for, and save themselves from years of guilt.


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