Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 17 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Mrs. Turner saw with dismay that Tea Cake’s taking them out was worse than letting them stay in. She ran out in the back somewhere and got her husband to put a stop to things. He came in, took a look and squinched down into a chair in an off corner and didn’t open his mouth. (17.38)
Mr. Turner acts in a decidedly non-masculine way, refusing to defend his wife’s honor and taking a passive role by sitting down silently to watch the fight rather than participate in it. Mrs. Turner, by default, is forced to take on a stereotypically masculine role and fight for her own honor.
[Mrs. Turner]: "What kinda man is you, Turner? You see dese no count niggers come in heah and break up mah place! How kin you set and see yo’ wife all trompled on? You ain’t no kinda man at all. You seen dat Tea Cake shove me down! Yes you did! You ain’t raised yo’ hand tuh do nothin’ about it." (17.43)
Mrs. Turner castigates Mr. Turner in a rather domineering masculine tone. She accuses him of effeminacy. By her rants, readers can discover what exactly in this novel is considered effeminate in a man – silence and passivity.
Mrs. Turner hit at him the best she could with her hurt hand and then spoke her mind for half an hour.
"It’s a good thing mah brother wuzn’t round heah when it happened do he would uh kilt somebody. Mah son too. Dey got some manhood about ‘em." (17.45-46)
In the first paragraph here, Mrs. Turner reminds readers of Joe Starks, with his big incessant voice and beating hands. To further humiliate her husband, she cites some close relations who "got some manhood about ‘em" in contrast to her husband’s perceived effeminacy for not fighting or killing anyone.