Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 7 Quotes
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Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Then one day she sat and watched the shadow of herself going about tending store and prostrating itself before Jody, while all the time she herself sat under a shady tree with the wind blowing through her hair and her clothes. Somebody near about making summertime out of lonesomeness. (7.5)
Janie’s waking life is so enclosed by Joe’s jealousy that she can only find freedom in her thoughts. So she imagines a "shadow of herself" confined in the store while her true self is free to sit among nature’s blessings – under a tree (like her beloved pear tree) in the garden. This is reminiscent about what Nanny said about slavery – you’re physically trapped but your mind and dreams can be free.
The years took all the fight out of Janie’s face. For a while she thought it was gone from her soul. No matter what Jody did, she said nothing. She had learned how to talk some and leave some. She was a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels. (7.1)
Janie’s inability to communicate isolates her to such an extend that she sees herself as a "rut in the road." She is eventually rejuvenated when she finds her voice again, which she uses to accuse Jody of his crimes against her.
[Janie]: "You big-bellies round here and put out a lot of brag, but ‘tain’t nothin’ to it but yo’ big voice. Humph! Talkin’ ‘bout me lookin’ old! When you pull down yo’ britches, you look lak de change uh life." (7.22)
Janie recognizes Joe (and men in general) as nothing but a "big voice"; in other words, Joe’s words have no substance behind them. It’s almost like Janie’s showing that words aren’t good enough on their own, they only have power when there is truth behind them. Then, she goes on to castrate Joe with her incisive words – since her words are true, they’re very potent.