Their Eyes Were Watching God
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 1 Quotes Page 2

Page (2 of 7) Quotes:   1    2    3    4    5    6    7  
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Quote 4

[The porch gossips]: "What she doin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on? – Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in? – Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her? – What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal? – Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid? – Thought she was going to marry? – Where he left her? – What he done wid all her money? – Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs – Why she don’t stay in her class? – " (1.6)

The inhabitants of Eatonville resent Janie for not fitting into an easily-identifiable class. She was known as the venerable wife of the mayor before she ran off with a no-name and no-account man far too young for her. Yet she is beautiful and has her dignity, so the porch gossips jealously point out everything wrong with her – her masculine dress, her hair worn in a manner too youthful for her age, her widowhood, and her apparent poverty.

Quote 5

[The porch gossips]: "What she doin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on? – Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in? – Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her? – What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal? – Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid? – Thought she was going to marry? – Where he left her? – What he done wid all her money? – Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs – Why she don’t stay in her class? – " (1.6)

The porch wants to confine Janie to a rigid and easily-definable category – through gender, social class, and age. The fact that she freely moves between high and low classes as well as male, female, and youthful types of dress makes her too ambiguous for the people to classify. And this fluidity between groups makes the townspeople uncomfortable.

Quote 6

The sun was gone…It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment. (1.4)

Since many of the people of Eatonville are laborers during the day, they are rendered powerless and voiceless – essentially animals – while under their boss’s watch. When the "bossman [is] gone," their humanity returns to them and they finally have the capacity to speak and listen and judge.

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