Marriage Is A Contractual Agreement

1347 Words 6 Pages
Miller presents a strong case, however he overlooks some crucial characteristics and therefore arrives at the wrong conclusions. Ironically, Miller recognizes that “marriage is somewhat of a contractual agreement”; but he overlooks the fact that both Starks and Killicks did not respect their half of the contract. Initially, Killicks was treated Janie with respect and left her to do her work in the house while he took care of the manual labor. After a while, however, he begins to note that “if [he] kin haul de wood heah and chop it fuh yuh, look lak you oughta be able tuh… grab dat ax and sling chips lak uh man” (Hurston, 25) . Kilicks recognizes that chopping wood is a man’s job according to the conventions of that time, but he still demands …show more content…
For Miller, the reason Janie attempts to silence her fighting spirit is because she recognizes that she is rebellious and that that would lead to a disastrous relationship. This claim is also true, however there is a key component missing from it. Miller forgets, once again, that marriage is deemed to be a contractual agreement, a balance between the roles and a balance in terms of domination. Janie is not fighting her spirit because she wishes to be submissive and therefore subservient to her husbands; she is fighting her spirit because she recognizes that successful marriages consist of “husbands and wives [that] always love each other” (Hurston, 20). She recognizes that if she oversteps her boundaries, if she criticizes every command given to her in her marriage, she is creating an obstacle for their marriage to succeed. In other words, part of her contractual agreement is that she shows love to her husband, and that he should show love to her. She abandons the relationships not when she can no longer keep silent, but when she recognizes that the love is not mutual and equal on both sides. She silently watches Joe Starks sit on the porch laughing, as she slaves away in the store. True, she confronts him, but during her final conversation with Joe, she reveals her true emotions. She explains to him that he “got …show more content…
The woman is also expected to be completely submissive to her husband’s will, and, judging from the town’s reaction to Janie and Tea Cake’s relationship, the husband is meant to be older and preferably richer than the woman. Phoeby, concerned about her friend, confronts Janie, reminding her that ““Tea Cake…ain’t got uh dime tuh cry…[and] him bein’ younger than you?” (Hurston, 107). From that perspective, Janie is not working towards a more conventional marriage because there is nothing conventional about the relationship to begin with. Janie is already marrying a younger, poorer man than both herself and her pervious husbands. This is an important point that Miller overlooks when making the argument that Janie is working towards a more conventional marriage by eventually accepting that she must be more submissive as a wife. Had Janie been concerned about the conventional role she must fulfill, than the marriage to Tea Cake would have never been commenced. Instead, she not only accepts the marriage, but she moves from a more conventional relationship in order to do so. She leaves behind the man who would have been considered the most conventionally fit, Joe Starks, the high status she possessed, the wealth that she had been living with, and the popularity and comfort that she was presented with in

Related Documents