Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Appearances Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Nanny]: "How come?"
"’Cause I hates de way his [Logan’s] head is so long one way and so flat on de sides and dat pone uh fat back uh his neck."
"He never made his own head. You talk so silly." (3.24-25)
Janie’s shallowness and frivolity as a teenage girl makes her resent Logan simply for being ugly. Nanny’s wise words point out that Logan has no control over his looks; the implication is that of the things he does have control over, he has done well.
[Janie on Logan]: "His belly is too big too, now, and his toe-nails look lak mule foots. And ‘tain’t nothin’ in de way of him washin’ his feet every evenin’ before he comes tuh bed. ‘Tain’t nothin’ tuh hinder him ‘cause Ah places de water for him. Ah’d ruther be shot wid tacks tan tuh turn over in de bed and stir up de air whilst he is in dere. He don’t even never mention nothin’ pretty."
She began to cry.
"Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think. Ah…" (3.26-28)
Young Janie’s conception of the beautiful extends to more than just the visible. She also takes offense that Logan does make himself smell pretty either. He is utterly ugly in every way possible to Janie. Even in his speech he "never mention nothin’ pretty." His image desecrates her idealized image of true love – "under a pear tree" – which is beautiful to see and pleasing in every other way as well.
It was a cityfied, stylish dressed man with his hat set at an angle that didn’t belong in these parts. His coat was over his arm, but he didn’t need it to represent his clothes. The shirt with the silk sleeveholders was dazzling enough for the world. He whistled, mopped his face and walked like he knew where he was going. He was a seal-brown color but he acted like Mr. Washburn or somebody like that to Janie. (4.14)
Chafing from a marriage with ugly and surly Logan, Janie is attracted to Joe from the first moment she sees him, based purely upon his stylish figure. In her innocence, Janie probably assumes that physical beauty is an outward manifestation of inner beauty. To Janie, Logan is ugly inside and out. She probably assumes that since Joe is pretty on the outside, he is on the inside too. She’s pretty much wrong, though.