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)
Logan with his shovel looked like a black bear doing some clumsy dance on his hind legs. (4.52)
Logan’s jealousy that Janie might run off with some other man renders him somewhat bestial, like a "black bear doing some clumsy dance." Hurston often relates jealousy to loss of humanity and reduction to bestiality. Often, when people show excessive jealousy or hate, Hurston depicts them as animals.
It was a cityfied, stylish dressed man with his hat set at an angle that didn’t belong in these parts. His coat was over his arm, but he didn’t need it to represent his clothes. The shirt with the silk sleeveholders was dazzling enough for the world. He whistled, mopped his face and walked like he knew where he was going. He was a seal-brown color but he acted like Mr. Washburn or somebody like that to Janie. (4.14)
Chafing from a marriage with ugly and surly Logan, Janie is attracted to Joe from the first moment she sees him, based purely upon his stylish figure. In her innocence, Janie probably assumes that physical beauty is an outward manifestation of inner beauty. To Janie, Logan is ugly inside and out. She probably assumes that since Joe is pretty on the outside, he is on the inside too. She’s pretty much wrong, though.
[Joe]: "You behind a plow! You ain’t got no mo’ business wid uh plow than uh hog is got wid uh holiday! You ain’t got no business cuttin’ up no seed p’taters neither. A pretty doll-baby lak you is made to sit on de front porch and rock and fan yo’self and eat p’taters dat other folks plant just special for you." (4.26)
Like Janie, Joe bases his first assumptions on the pretty girl in front of him purely on looks. However charming he is, his words treat Janie like some adorable little object, not as a serious human being. While he says that since Janie is pretty she shouldn’t be working hard, that also means he doesn’t think ugly women deserve to "sit on de front porch […] and eat p’taters dat other folks plant just special for [her]." Essentially, Joe judges the value of a woman based on her appearance.