This document was written when I was in high school. I have little or no authority on this topic. Make of this what you will.
In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, copyrighted in 1937, the reader is confronted with Janie and the story of her three marriages. A marriage with amusement and equality will succeed more often than one missing one, or both, of those qualities. Each of the marriages Janie has is her trying to find this perfect combination.
The pear tree symbolizes Janie’s ideal marriage, a marriage of equality and pleasure between the partners. As Janie was sitting under the pear tree, she observed a bee “sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meed the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree … creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage” (11). Hurston’s choice of words here make it seem like the tree is undergoing an orgasm when it is touched by its partner, the pollinating bees. Janie sees this in her head, and wants her marriage to be one of pleasure. Janie also sees “flies tumbling… marrying and giving in marriage… [and] kissing bees singing” (11). The flies and the bees are all singing and tumbling around with their partners, together. Janie incorporates this togetherness, or equality, into her idea of a marriage.
Janie’s marriage to Logan is barren of amusement and equality. After they married, Janie first sees Logan’s house which is “a lonesome place like a stump in the middle of the woods” (21). From her first glance, she is struck with a sense of loneliness and the lack of color in Logan"s world; a stump in the middle of the woods is all that Logan is. He never has any fun. At one point in their marriage, Logan asks Janie to help him with a chore outdoors, and Janie replies “you don’t need mah help out dere, Logan. Youse in yo’ place and Ah’m in mine” (31). This shows how there is a lack of equality between the couple. Logan’s place is working outdoors, and Janie’s is in the kitchen; both people always working. Logan flops the pear tree test, with no fun and no togetherness, and that is why Janie leaves him and his pile of manure behind.
Jody and Janie’s marriage comes with laughter and fun, but there is no equality in it. On Jody’s store front porch, everyone is always talking and one day there was “one of those big blow-out laughs and Janie [wallows] in it” (69). Unlike with Logan, Jody’s very sociable, and being sociable, there is a lot of fun around him. Janie is always around Jody, and partakes in this fun, usually by wallowing in it, rather than participate actively in it. For instance, Jody tells Janie to “fetch [him] de checker-board and the checkers” so he could play Sam Watson (75). Janie is ordered around a lot by Jody, so there is not much equality between the two. Janie is merely an observer to the fun that Jody has with him. Even though there is fun in Janie’s marriage with Jody, she can never take part in it, according to Jody; he too fails the pear tree test.
Janie and Tea Cake’s marriage includes both pleasure and equality, and satisfies Janie’s ideal marriage. When these two first meet, Tea Cake asks Janie “why [she ain’t] at de ball game, everybody else is dere” and she replied: “Ah see somebody else besides me ain’t dere. Ah just sold some cigarettes,” and they both laughed (95). Even from the get go, Tea Cake and Janie were laughing with each other. This laughter they have with each other continues through their marriage. Furthermore, since Janie has never played checkers before, Tea Cake “[sets] it up and [begins] to show her how” (95). In direct contrast to Jody, Tea Cake teaches Janie checkers, and sets an equal relationship up between them. They can share their pleasure with each other and can make their own together. Tea Cake passes the pear tree test with flying colors, as Janie and him have fun and do it together.
In conclusion, a marriage with fun and equality is much better than one without either of those two basic qualities. Janie finds this out the hard way with her three marriages. Her first husband, Logan, misses both qualities, and drives Janie to running away from him. Jody, her second husband, has fun, but does not allow Janie to partake in it, so he is missing equality, and this lead to a miserable life for Janie during their marriage. Her final marriage with Tea Cake has both qualities, and this leads to a very fulfilling relationship between him and Janie. If more marriages were like the one between Tea Cake and Janie, the divorce rate would decrease. More people would enjoy their lives, and would lead to a better environment for people to live in. Children would also grow up with a more stable family, and actually have two parents. Sadly, it does not seem as if this could happen to everyone in real life.