Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 5 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Tony Taylor]: "He [Joe] didn’t just come hisself neither. He have seen fit tuh bring his, er, er, de light uh his home, dat is his wife amongst us also. She couldn’t look no mo’ better and no nobler if she wuz de queen uh England. It’s uh pledger fuh her euh be amongst us." (5.91)
Tony and the rest of the Eatonville men are happy to have Janie living amongst them not because she’s a great person, but because she’s gorgeous. They’re so struck by Janie’s beauty that she is described as a "light" and the "queen uh England." Both of these things are usually white in color, so even unintentionally, her beauty always refers back to whiteness. Does this mean that Hurston equates whiteness with beauty and not blackness?
On the train the next day, Joe didn’t make many speeches with rhymes to her, but he bought her the best things the butcher had, like apples and a glass lantern full of candies. Mostly he talked about plans for the town when he got there […] Janie took a lot of looks at him and she was proud of what she saw. Kind of portly like rich white folks. Strange trains, and people and places didn’t scare him neither. Where they got off the train at Maitland he found a buggy to carry them over to the colored town right away. (5.1)
Janie’s pride in Joe is not for his merits, but a self-congratulating pride that claps her on the back for having found a fine a catch as Joe. She anticipates the wealth she will live in with him, as evidenced by the "apples and a glass lantern full of candles" that he has already bought for her.
[Joe]: "…Ah’m goin’ see de man. You cannot have no town without some land to build it on. Y’all ain’t got enough here to cuss a cat on without gittin’ yo’ mouf full of hair."
"He ain’t got no mo’ land tuh give away. Yuh needs plenty money if yuh wants any mo’."
"Ah specks to pay him."
The idea was funny to them and they wanted to laugh. They tried hard to hold it in, but enough incredulous laughter burst out of their eyes and leaked from the corners of their mouths to inform anyone of their thoughts. So Joe walked off abruptly. Most of them went along to show him the way and to be there when his bluff was called. (5.44-47)
Joe’s sense of pride almost requires humbling others around him. His sense of pride demands that he go purchase more land, but he also insults the men of Eatonville with his "cuss a cat" comment.