Anyway, I read this book for my AP Literature class, so I’ve already dissected it quite a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed this book for several reasons. First of all, it’s timeless. Like most books that are considered classic, it withstood the test of time, remaining as relevant today as it was in 1937. Even though the situations weren’t relatable for me, the motivations and attitudes of the characters were. I’ve never been in a scenario remotely similar to the ones Janie faces throughout the novel, but I understand her internal struggles.
I also loved Janie as a character. She was confident and unwilling to play games. As an adolescent, you’re told over and over again, “Be yourself. It doesn’t matter what other people think.” It’s difficult to recognize when people put this into practice, though, because we’re so dependent on the opinions of those around us. For this reason, it was great to see how little Janie cared about what the townspeople thought of her behavior. She conformed just enough to be accepted, but most of her decisions were questioned by everyone around her, and almost all of them were socially unacceptable in one way or another. Janie didn’t care though.
One of the most important themes to be seen in this book is the search for self. Janie’s search was long and tiring, which justifies her exhaustion in telling the story. Many people that I discussed the book with criticized Janie for not being a strong enough female character, for depending too much on the men in her life. Personally, I don’t believe the story was about a strong female character making her way in the world. I believe it to be about a woman just trying to figure out what she wanted in life. She was searching for happiness, and I think she found it several times throughout the novel.
The thing I found the most interesting about Janie was that when she found happiness, she grabbed it, but when it no longer made her happy, she simply let it go. She, like everyone else, evolved, and she didn’t try to hold onto things that couldn’t evolve with her. It seemed that she was more focused on doing whatever would make her happy, even if it was temporary. One of my favorite quotes in the book revolved around this idea, as Janie said, “If you kin see de light at daybreak, you don’t keer if you die at dusk. It’s so many people never seen de light at all.”
Dialogue was another element that made this book so interesting. It was difficult to follow at first, but after reading it for a bit, it becomes easier to pick up. It gives the story more context and depth, and without it, the story would lack that aspect of realism.
I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that I couldn’t relate to the situations immediately. I liked the characters, the dialogue, the timeless themes, and especially Janie’s confidence and her search for happiness. I wouldn't recommend this book if you're just looking for something easy to read, but it does have literary merit and deals with a lot of important themes. I'm glad I read it, because although it didn't make me want to read more books like it, it did prompt a lot of questions for me to think about, and it might be worth rereading in a few years.
P.S. Sorry for the boring photo. I forgot to selfie before I returned it to the library.
P.P.S. Can "selfie" be used as a verb? I'm going to pretend it can.