Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 4 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
There! Janie had put words in his [Logan’s] held-in fears. (4.44)
By saying out loud that she might run away from him, Janie is making Logan’s fears a real possibility, to herself and especially to Logan. Thus, words are transformative vehicles, rendering unspoken thoughts into a possible reality the moment they are uttered.
Janie turned from the door without answering, and stood still in the middle of the floor without knowing it. She turned wrongside out just standing there and feeling. When the throbbing calmed a little she gave Logan’s speech a hard thought and placed it beside other things she had seen and heard. When she had finished with that she dumped the dough on the skillet and smoothed it over with her hand. She wasn’t even angry. Logan was accusing her of her mamma, her grandmamma and her feelings, and she couldn’t do a thing about any of it. The sow-belly in the pan needed turning. She flipped it over and shoved it back. A little cold water in the coffee pot to settle it. Turned the hoe-cake with a plate…(4.58)
After Logan’s rant against Janie, she treats his speech like an object, "plac[ing] it beside other things she had seen and heard." By objectifying it, she can consider his words from a distance and not allow them to impact her emotionally and render her irrational. Also, all her movements within the kitchen – turning over pots and pans, setting food down to cook – could all be read as things she does to her thoughts – turning her thoughts over and letting them stew to get as much meaning out of them as she can and make her decision.
From now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything. A bee for her bloom. Her old thoughts were going to come in handy now, but new words would have to be made and said to fit them. (4.59)
Janie sees this moment of abandoning Logan and eloping with Joe as a moment of rebirth. This rebirth requires coining of "new words" so that Janie never has to be tied down by language referring back to her unhappy times with Logan and Nanny.