Their Eyes Were Watching God
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 5 Quotes Page 5

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Quote 13

Take for instance that new house of his. It had two stories with porches, with banisters and such things. The rest of the town looked like servants’ quarters surrounding the "big house." And different from everybody else in the town he put off moving in until it had been painted, in and out. And look at the way he painted it – a gloaty, sparkly white. The kind of promenading white that the houses of Bishop Whipple, W.B. Jackson and the Vanderpool’s wore. It made the village feel funny talking to him – just like he was anybody else. Then there was the matter of the spittoons. No sooner was he all set as the Mayor – post master – landlord – storekeeper, than he bought a desk like Mr. Hill or Mr. Galloway over in Maitland with one of those swing-around chairs to it. What with him biting down on cigars and saving his breath on talk and swinging round in that chair, it weakened people. And then he spit in that gold-looking vase that anybody else would have been glad to put on their front-room table. Said it was a spittoon just like his used-to-be bossman used to have in his bank up there in Atlanta. Didn’t have to get up and go to the door every time he had to spit. Didn’t spit on his floor neither. Had that golded-up spitting pot right handy. But he went further than that. He bought a little lady-size spitting pot for Janie to spit in. Had it right in the parlor with little sprigs of flowers painted all around the sides It took people by surprise because most of the women dipped snuff and of course had a spit-cup in the house. But how could they know up-to-date folks was spitting in flowery little things like that? It sort of made the rest of them feel that they had been taken advantage of. Like things had been kept from them. Maybe more thing sin the world besides spitting pots had been hid from them, when they wasn’t told no better than to spit in tomato cans It was bad enough for white people, but when one of your own color could be so different it put you on a wonder. It was like seeing your sister turn into a ‘gator. A familiar strangeness. You keep seeing your sister in the ‘gator and the ‘gator in your sister and you’d rather not. There was no doubt that the town respected him 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)

Joe flaunts his new wealth in a parodic semblance of Southern white gentry. He spends his money on trivial items like adorned spittoons for himself and his wife. This exorbitance makes the citizens both jealous and resentful of him. Before Joe moved into town, the people of Eatonville had no reason to think of themselves as low class, because they were all the same class – all the same race and all poor. Joe brought social stratification to town, and now everyone else can see what they’re missing out on.

Quote 14

"Whut make her [Janie] keep her head tied up lak some ole ‘oman round de store? Nobody couldn’t git me tuh tie no rag on mah head if Ah had hair lak dat." (5.143)

Janie’s constant wearing of the head-rag attracts public notice. Because people have already seen her gorgeous hair in all its unbound glory, they wonder at why Janie would not want to flaunt such an attribute, but rather keep it all tied up and out of sight. Later we find out that the head rag is another one of Joe’s ways of confining Janie, and jealously attempting to keep her under his control and all to himself.

Quote 15

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 […] (5.1)

Unlike Logan, Joe does not start off his marriage by "mak[ing] many speeches with rhymes" to Janie, or embellishing a love that isn’t sincere. His words are directed towards his destination (Eatonville) and plans for the future, which reveals his ambition but not his emotions. Joe isn’t communicative about their relationship at the beginning of the marriage – he seems to think that objects and gifts are all that Janie needs – and this trend continues throughout their entire marriage. Since Joe gives gifts instead of communication, he never is showing his emotions or heart to Janie, or letting her reveal her inner self either.

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