Their Eyes Were Watching God
How we cite our quotes:
Mrs. Tyler with her dyed hair, newly straightened and her uncomfortable new false teeth, her leathery skin, blotchy with powder and giggle. Her love affairs, affairs with boys in their late teens or early twenties for all of whom she spent her money on suits of clothes, shoes, watches and things like that and how they all left her as soon as their wants were satisfied. Then when her ready cash was gone, had come Who Flung to denounce his predecessor as a scoundrel and took up around the house himself. It was he who persuaded her to sell her house and come to Tampa with him. The town had seen her limp off. The under-sized high-heel slippers were punishing her tired feet that looked like bunions all over. Her body squeezed and crowded into a tight corset that shoved her middle up under her chin. But she had gone off laughing and sure. As sure as Janie had been. (13.11)
Mrs. Tyler used external ornaments – a fake, made-up appearance of accessories – to hide her age and true self. The difference between Mrs. Tyler and Janie is that Janie’s youthful dress and appearances isn’t masking her true self, it’s just revealing what’s inside. Therefore, we can assume that Janie won’t share Mrs. Tyler’s fate.
Then two weeks later the porter and conductor of the north bound local had helped her off the train at Maitland. Hair all gray and black and bluish and reddish in streaks. All the capers that cheap dye could cut was showing in her hair. Those slippers bent and griped just like her work-worn feet. The corset gone and the shaking old woman hanging all over herself. Everything that you could see was hanging. Her chin hung from her ears and rippled down her neck like drapes. Her hanging bosom and stomach and buttocks and legs that draped down over her ankles. She groaned but never giggled. (13.12)
Mrs. Tyler’s outward appearance end up reflecting her true condition as a wretched and destitute old woman, cheated out of her money and played for a fool by younger men. It is appropriate that "everything…was hanging" since Mrs. Tyler herself is barely hanging onto her life and dignity.
And he [Tea Cake] stood in the door and paid all the ugly women two dollars not to come in. One big meriny colored woman was so ugly till it was worth five dollars for her not to come in, so he gave it to her. (13.38)
This shows society’s abhorrence of ugliness. Although this was meant in jest, Tea Cake’s actions show how much he despises ugliness. This is probably sanctioned by his own good looks and his attachment to Janie, who seems to hold similar condescension to for ugliness.