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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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)

Joe Starks

Quote 7

[Joe]: "Folkses, de sun is goin’ down. De Sun-maker brings it up in de mornin’, and de Sun-maker sends it tuh bed at night. Us poor weak humans can’t do nothin’ tuh hurry it up nor to slow it down. All we can do, if we want any light after de settin’ or befo’ de risin’, is tuh make some light ourselves. So dat’s how come lamps was made. Dis evenin’ we’se all assembled heah tuh light uh lamp." (5.119)

Joe is so ambitious a man that he will not trust to fate to provide everything he needs. In Eatonville, he isn’t not content to only have light when the sun is up, so he takes the initiative and obtains streetlamps for the whole town. This is one example of Joe taking matters into his own hands and initiating change.

Quote 8

There was no doubt that the town respected him [Joe] and even admired him in a way. But any man who walks in the way of power and property is bound to meet hate. (5.130)

It seems an unwritten law of fate that powerful men draw hate from the general, less powerful public. It is inevitable that Joe, because he gains wealth and opportunities, incites resentment in the townspeople against himself.

Quote 9

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)

Joe shows his ambition to get into a higher class by flaunting his wealth to Janie, buying her all sorts of treats like "apples and a glass lantern full of candies." Showing off the new social class that he’s brought her into is also his way of trying to endear himself to her. Maybe he sees rhymes and poetry as a poor man’s way of romancing the woman he loves, and money and gifts as the higher class equivalent.

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