“Now, Bring Me That Horizon” Janie is a dreamer and a searcher. She is forever looking for love and companionship, through which she hopes to find happiness. Janie pursues that ideal for forty years although in the end she is unable to keep it. However, with the death of Teacake, it becomes clear that the path Janie followed has actually led her to something of the utmost value; the discovery of herself.
Janie’s travel down this path is observed in reference to the ideal she seeks, the horizon. In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, the metaphor of the horizon is the reference point, the ideal state of being, that Janie’s journey of self-discovery is illustrated by. The long search that Janie undergoes begins in her grandmother’s backyard underneath the pear tree. While Janie was lying underneath its blossoming canopy, the pear tree “…called her to come and gaze upon a mystery.
” (10) It is in this moment that the tree sparks Janie’s curiosity about love and showed her what it looked like. The blooms “emerged and questioned about her consciousness.” (11) Having seen what love was; the “singing bees,” Janie immediately wants to find it for herself. The narrator statesthat “Janie searched as much of the world as she could from the top of the front steps and then went on down to the front gate and leaned over to gaze up and down the road.
Looking, waiting, breathing short with impatience. Waiting for the world to be made.” (11)It is to the horizon that Janie looks to for new possibilities and love. Peering into the horizon, Janie suddenly espies “a glorious being coming up the road.” (11) This “glorious being” is Johnny Taylor and when they kiss it is Janie’s first step towards her becoming a woman, the kiss marks “the end of her childhood” (12). Thus Janie is shown to be a person who searches for love and will always be aware that love is just over the horizon.
The second stop on Janie’s journey of self-discovery is her marriage to Logan Killicks, under the auspices of her grandmother. Janie, in an attempt to escape loneliness, follows her grandmother’s advice and marries Logan with the hope that marriage creates love. Janie “could see no way for love to come about, but Nanny and the old folks had said it, so it must be true.” (20) Janie’s hopes for true love are blocked by her grandmother’s words and she is also left with no sight of the horizon. The narrator shows this by stating that Logan and Janie’s home “is a lonesome place like a stump in the middle of the woods where nobody had ever been.” (20) Janie is isolated from the rest of the world and so she patiently awaits the beginning of love between her and Logan.
On the farm, surrounded by trees, Janie has no view of the horizon and is trapped by Nanny’s enduring words, “We don’t know nothin’ but what we see.” (14) It is that thought that more effectively imprisons Janie than anything else. Janie’s sight is only restored when she meets a charming scoundrel, Joe Starks.
He speaks “for far horizon change and chance” (28) She is charmed by this and Janie runs off with Joe. She does this with a view of the horizon ahead of her and hopes for love in her heart.Janie’s relationship with Joe serves as a mechanism to move her farther along her journey of self-discovery. This is shown when the narrator compares Janie and Joe’s relationship with the horizon. Shortly after their wedding ceremony, Joe and Janie are sitting on a “house porch watching the sun plunge into the same crack from which it emerged” (31) It is here that Janie feels a sense of success as she believes that she has found her ideals of love, happiness, and companionship in Joe. Janie has such passion for Joe initially because she believes that she has a clear view of the horizon. Yet, as the years pass, Janie has realized that she has become an afterthought to Joe who is focused on his unending quest for wealth, glory, and power.
The narrator states that Janie has become “…a rut in the road…”(72) with “…life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels” (72) Janie’s hopes and personality are smothered by Joe’s desire for her to be a mild-mannered figurehead fit to be a mayor’s wife. It is now that Janie realizes that she has made a mistake and tries to find her way back to the horizon. Instead, she finds her vision clouded; she is troubled by “emotional disturbances like shade patterns in the woods-come and gone with the sun.” (72) Here is a direct link between Janie and the horizon, the sun is a symbol for love and the trees that block it out are representative of Joe’s control over Janie.
Although, Janie is currently unable to reach the horizon, she never forgets her symbol for her ideal state of being. Joe’s soul-crushing.