Nanny, who dearly cares for Jeanie, is beyond retroactive, only because she fears for her granddaughter’s safety. In Harpoon’s novel, Nanny did not have good experiences with white men. She was born into slavery and was overpowered by her master, raping her. Giving birth to a light-skinned child caused havoc. The master’s wife planned to whip Nanny, so she decided to run away and hide in the swamps with her daughter. In later years, Leafy is also raped by a white man, a school teacher. After witnessing disrespect, abuse, and rape of black women, Nanny doesn’t want to risk that happening to Jeanie as well.
Nanny tells Jeanie the truth about the harsh world without sugar coating it. Nanny had every reason to be worried for Genie’s safety after being mistreated most of her life. Because of this she forbids Jeanie to seek love of her own and marries her off to old Logan Clicks. “Taint Logan Clicks Ah wants you to have, baby, it’s protection” (Hurst 14). “Maybe it’s some place way off in De ocean where De black man is in power, but we don’t know nothing’ but what we see. So De white man thrown down De load and tell De Niger man HTH pick it up.
He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolk’s. De Niger woman is De mule uh De world so fur as Ah can see. Ad been praying’ uh it HTH be different wide you. Lad, Lad, Lad! ” (Hurst 14). Nanny compares negro women to mules simply because that is how they are treated. Being a black woman was the worst that one could be. They were below white men, white women, and even black men. They were the lowest and were of course treated that way. Nanny was most definitely justified in her decision to marry off Jeanie to Logan Clicks.
As a former slave, Nanny knew what it could be like for Jeanie without a husband, serving as her protection and escaping the cycle of rape and abuse throughout the generations. As Jeanie becomes tired of Logan and meets the charming and successful Joe Starks, she decides to leave for Detonative. While being Mrs.. Mayor Starks, Joe puts her to work at their store. Soon the lust in their relationship is lost. Realizing he is growing older and less attractive, Joe makes Jeanie fell terrible for every mistake she makes. This results in violence.
When Jeanie makes a mistake in the store, Joe feels he needs to put Jeanie in her place by beating her in front of all the townsmen. After being abused once before, she maintained her emotions and was silent, but this time Jeanie retaliates. Deep down inside she is getting revenge on her father and grandfather. She eels how her mother and grandmother felt when they were disrespected, but at a lesser level. Wanting to avenge Nanny and Leafy, Jeanie fights back by striping away his manliness. Even being indirectly traumatized by sexual abuse has scarred Jeanie.
Just by knowing that her mother and Nanny were taken advantage of hurts her deep inside. Coming into the world being a child of violence is mortifying. Especially, being abandoned by her mother and realizing that she never wanted Jeanie to begin with, makes one feel that they don’t deserve a place in this world. When not even the mother of the child can love them, who else can? These thoughts must have run through Janis mind a million times. Fortunately for Jeanie, Nanny did not want the family cycle of rape and abuse to continue throughout her generation.
Nanny truly makes the difference, causing the cycle to break. Eventually Joe dies and Jeanie is on her own. Meeting a younger man, Tea Cake, she falls in love. First being loving and passionate, the relationship turns abusive as Tea Cake takes his anger out on Jeanie. She does not completely break the cycle of abuse. This time, Jeanie does nothing. She does not fight back at all. It is not that Jeanie could not fight back. She really trusted Tea Cake o love and protect her. When she gets hit she receives an overwhelming sense of betrayal and shock (Kessler).
It was truly heartbreaking. Fighting back could even make thing worse and make Tea Cake even more aggressive. Jeanie was so deeply in love that she couldn’t leave. Even if she wanted to, she would have nowhere to go. In many cases when the woman tries to leave, the man becomes even angrier and would threaten them (Kessler). Resisting the control Of the abuser only seems to make matters worse. Just like Jeanie, many women are physically abused. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that 1. Million women are victims of physical assault by their partner each year.
Nearly eighty five percent of domestic violence victims are women and females between the ages of twenty and twenty-four are at the greatest risk of partner violence. Jeanie was only one of the few women to be assaulted. In the 1 ass’s, Genie’s time, it was even more likely that women were abused since men had more rights. One of the universal themes of literature is the idea that children suffer because of the mistakes of an earlier generation. In Genie’s case, this was true. Doing everything she could, Nanny tried to mold a safe world for Jeanie.