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

Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 5 Quotes Page 7

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Quote 19

Another big blow-out of a laugh. Tony was a little peeved at having the one speech of his lifetime ruined like that.

"All y’all know whut wuz meant. Ah don’t see how come – "

"’Cause you jump up tuh make speeches and don’t know how," Lige said.

"Ah wuz speakin’ jus’ all right befo’ you stuck yo’ bill in."

"Naw, you wuzn’t, Tony. Youse way outa jurisdiction. You can’t welcome uh man and his wife ‘thout you make comparison about Isaac and Rebecca at de well, else it don’t show de love between ‘em if you don’t."

Everybody agreed that that was right. It was sort of pitiful for Tony not to know he couldn’t make a speech without saying that. Some tittered at his ignorance. So Tony said testily, "If all them dat’s goin-tuh cut de monkey is done cut it and through wid, we’ll thank Brother Starks tuh a respond." (5.94-99)

Language is integral to a person’s self-concept. If your words are laughed at, like Tony Taylor’s are, you feels as inadequate as your words. The crowd probably is just as ignorant as Tony about how to speak publicly, but they quickly agree with anything that sounds vaguely educated – which is essentially everything that comes out of Joe’s mouth.

Quote 20

[Tony Taylor when Joe is made mayor]: "And now we’ll listen tuh uh few words uh encouragement from Mrs. Mayor Starks."

The burst of applause was cut short by Joe taking the floor himself.

"Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but nah wife don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh woman and her place is in de home." (5.105-108)

Joe makes sure to deny Janie any chance of speaking, even when she is publicly invited. By denying her a voice, he shows that he completely dominates and controls her. He sees his wife’s ideal place as in the house and working silently at whatever he tells her to.

Quote 21

[Joe]: "Y’all know we can’t invite people to our town just dry long so. I god, naw. We got tuh feed ‘em something, and ‘tain’t nothin’ people laks better’n barbecue. Ah’ll give one whole hawg mah ownself. Seem lak all de rest uh y’all put tuhgether oughta be able tuh scrape up two mo’. Tell yo’ womenfolks tuh do ‘round ‘bout some pies and cakes and sweet p’tater pone." (5.116)

Joe takes on a commanding tone with the citizens of Eatonville, telling them what to do to prepare for a public party. Everyone seems to listen and obey, maybe because he has a big voice, and always sounds confident.

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