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)
[Tea Cake]: "Mah Janie is uh high time woman and useter things. Ah didn’t git her outa de middle uh de road. Ah got her outa uh big fine house. Right now she got money enough in de bank tuh buy up dese ziggaboos and give ‘em away."
"Hush yo’ mouf! And she down heah on de muck lak anybody else!" (17.5-6)
Tea Cake is proud of Janie’s former status as a mayor’s wife and he similarly admires her wealth. It’s almost like he sees his status increasing by pointing out that his wife left her wealth and comfortable life for him and to work in the muck beside him. That’s how awesome he his.
Still and all, jealousies arose now and then on both sides. When Mrs. Turner’s brother came and she brought him over to be introduced, Tea Cake had a brainstorm. Before the week was over he had whipped Janie. Not because her behavior justified his jealousy, but it relieved that awful fear inside him. Being able to whip her reassured him in possession. No brutal beating at all. He just slapped her around a bit to show he was boss. (17.1)
Tea Cake’s jealousy, like Janie’s in previous chapters, manifests itself physically. To ensure his sole ownership of Janie, Tea Cake whips her because it "relieve[s] the awful fear inside him" that her heart might belong to another man. Essentially, jealousy really brings out the worst in Tea Cake; it turns him into a bit of a Joe Starks and Logan Killicks, thinking he needs to be the "boss" of Janie and possesses her (like an object) in order to keep her with him.
"We all laks tuh take uh rest from our women folks’ cookin’ once in uh while, so us all eatin’ way from home tuhnight. Anyhow Mis’ Turner got de best ole grub in town."
Mrs. Turner back and forth in the dining room heard Sop when he said this and beamed.
"Ah speck you two last ones tuh come in is gointuh gave tuh wait for uh seat. Ah’m all full up now." (17.20-22)
Mrs. Turner takes legitimate pride in her highly popular and successful restaurant, but her pride makes her susceptible to flattery and deception. Sop-de-Bottom and the rest of Tea Cake’s friends are merely feeding her vanity so they can blind her as they drag her restaurant down.