The beginning of The Eyes were Watching God dictates the theme of the novel through several events. Janie's grandmother seeks a better life for Janie, after explaining the oppressive and dependant life that she lived. Following this, Janie witnesses an interaction between a bee and flower. Jaine adores the harmony of this relationship but seeks the independence that the bee and flower have separately. Janie experiments judgment from the community she grew up in after returning. Throughout the book she has unique relationship with men. The judgement and diverse relationships develop her character . Janie gains courage which allows for her to see her own independence.
During the period before the Civil War African Americans were seen as far from equal. Despite efforts to create equality with amendments, there was still much room to grow. Africans were seen as mentally incapable and a “burden” to the white man. Whites exploited and abused Africans through systems like sharecropping and segregation, after slavery was abolished. It was an American Tradition, especially in the South and people were unwilling to let go of it. Women faced other adversities; even white women were not allowed to vote and were controlled by their domestic sphere. Janie was an African American Women; things couldn’t have gotten much more difficult for her.
Janie’s grandmother was born into slavery, she was oppressed and abused, and her child was raped by her owner. She wanted something different for Janie, something she could never fully have for herself. Janie shares her past and the realities of America with Janie:
You know, honey, us colored folks is branches without roots and that makes things come round in queer ways. Ah was born back due in slavery so it wasn’t for me to fulfill my dreams. You can’t baet nobody down so low till you rob ‘em of they will. Ah didn’t want to be used for a work-ox and a brood-saw. Ah wanted to preach a great sermon about colored people sittin’ on high but wasn’t no pulpit for me. Freedom found me wid a baby daughter in mah arms. Ah knowed here you was in de world. 
Her grandmother hopes that if she shares her experience with Janie, she will learn from it anda attempt to find a more fulfilling life for herself. Janie herself is not born into slavery, she is born and raised by her grandmother without oppression. Janie does not learn the she is colored until Page 12 when she sees herself in a picture. Her reaction to this is “Aw, aw! Ah’m colored” . The exclamation in the phrase shows that she is not disappointed, but surprised. Janie has pride in the fact that she is a person of color. When Janie...