Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 4 Quotes
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Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Six months back he [Logan] had told her, "If Ah kin haul de wood heah and chop it fuh yuh, look lak you oughta be able tuh tote it inside. Mah fust wife never bothered me ‘bout choppin’ no wood nohow. She’d grab dat ax and sling chips lak uh man. You done been spoilt rotten."
So Janie had told him, "Ah’m just as stiff as you is stout. If you can stand not to chop and tote wood Ah reckon you can stand not to git no dinner. ‘Scuse mah freezolity, Mist’ Killicks, but Ah don’t mean to chop de first chip." (4.1-2)
Logan and Janie both have strong opinions about gender roles in a marriage. Logan thinks a wife essentially exists to make life as easy for her husband as possible. He gradually increases the number of tasks he thinks she should do: cook, care for the house, now he’s adding chopping and hauling wood to the list, and shortly afterwards including plowing and planting potatoes. Janie, however, thinks both spouses should pull their weight equally. In her mind, the man should chop the wood while the woman makes dinner.
[Joe to Janie]: "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)
On the surface, Joe has a different conception of a woman’s proper role than Logan. A "pretty doll-baby" should be treated like a queen, never obliged to work and always served by others. What the young, naïve Janie does not realize is that Joe doesn’t think that pampering a woman is necessary because she’s a valuable human being, but because she’s a valuable object. This is not so different from Logan after all, who also considers Janie an object. For Joe, women are objects to look at, for Logan they’re objects to be utilized.
Janie got up with him the next morning and had the breakfast halfway done when he bellowed from the barn.
"Janie!" Logan called harshly. "Come help me move dis manure pile befo’ de sun gits hot. You don’t take a bit of interest in dis place. ‘Tain’t no use in foolin’ round in dat kitchen all day long…"
"You don’t need mah help out dere, Logan. Youse in yo’ place and Ah’m in mine."
"You ain’t got no particular place. It’s wherever Ah need yuh. Git uh move on yuh, and dat quick." (4.51-54)
Janie thinks that both men and women have their proper place in a marriage; the man should be out in the barn scooping up the manure while the woman should be indoors, making meals. Logan, however, thinks that the woman should serve the man, no matter what place he wants to put her in. Essentially, a woman has no defined identity or role outside of what her husband gives her.