African American Blues Essay

Submitted By jenn4240
Words: 1630
Pages: 7

One may go through their entire life hiding from who they truly are, the things they truly believe in and want to see in their future, and try to avoid the bad things in life, sometimes referred to as the “blues”. In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie Crawford is a perfect example of an African American woman battling and struggling to find the right direction toward her dreams. Along the way she faces some of the facts of life: love, loneliness, sickness, happiness, betrayal, and death. At first she was being pushed, then she was being chosen, and finally, she was able to choose. Born a victim of circumstance, Janie, the protagonist, was subject to her position in life. She was raised to uphold the standards of the early African-American generation. From the beginning, she was taught to be passive and subject to whatever life gave her, but as the novel progresses and Janie grew older, she began her self-revelation in realizing that she must give in to her desires and not suppress them. Before going in depth into the story of Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God, I must explain the implementation of “blues” from James Baldwin’s assertion of The Uses of the Blues. “Blues” come from the journey and acceptance of life and all it has to offer, both good and bad. Life, in a sense, could be considered a series of disasters. How you choose to face them will determine your future and happiness. The “blues” are essentially the facts of life; some you may not always want to accept, but in reality they are still there. You must face the facts of your life and learn to cope with them, not necessarily fix them or make them better, but understand them; that’s what the “blues” are, little disasters waiting to be confronted, and you just have to keep on trying. Life is a series of experiences that fill the blank pages to your personal story, and everyone’s is different. Baldwin focuses on how the life and experiences of an African American are much different than those of a white American. He says,
“I’m talking about what happens to you if, having barely escaped suicide, or death, or madness, or yourself, you watch your children growing up and no matter what you do, no matter what you do, you are powerless, you are really powerless, against the force of the world that is out to tell your child that he has no right to be alive” (Baldwin 60).
Although we may hear about it, or even see it first hand, there is no possible way to fully comprehend that feeling of the “blues” in a black person’s life while living in a white person’s world. That feeling is indescribable. We are all born on this same earth, we all face somewhat similar disasters, but the severity is different because of our skin color. We are all human beings, searching for ourselves and for the answers to life, and somewhere along the way things got screwed up and we began to lose track of that and pay more attention to the differences and downfalls of one another, rather than the similarities and strengths. Janie is in a sense living a life of “blues”, suppressing her feelings and avoiding her desire to dream big. For her, reality seems harsh, and it is easier to live with her ambitions inside her head rather than potentially have them crushed by someone else. “Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches” (Hurston 8). When Janie was a teenager, she used to sit under the pear tree and dream about being a tree in bloom. She longed for something more. She enters multiple marriages with many thoughts but of them all, she has universal expectations for each, those expectations are that she will be treated with respect and if it is not there in the beginning, "love will come" no matter what. Though she has three different serious relationships, Janie does not ever have her desires met, even with the one she loved most, Tea Cake. She