Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 7 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Janie]: "Stop mixin’ up mah doings wid mah looks, Jody. When you git through tellin’ me how tuh cut uh plug uh tobacco, then you kin tell me whether mah behind is on straight or not." (7.14)
Janie’s admonishment that Joe to "stop mixin’ up [her] doings wid [her] looks" points out one way that men try to keep women down – by assuming that their good looks must somehow compromise their intelligence. Joe might also think that if Janie doesn’t know how beautiful she is, she won’t think she can get a better man and run away with him. This is reminiscent of Logan Killicks when he told Janie that no other man but him could possibly want her, even though he knew he was lying.
Maybe, he [Joe] had seen it [his old age] long before Janie did, and had been fearing for her to see. Because he began to talk about her age all the time, as if he didn’t want her to stay young while he grew old. It was always "You oughta throw somethin’ over yo’ shoulders befo’ you go outside. You ain’t no young pullet no mo’. You’se uh old hen now."…If he thought to deceive her, he was wrong. For the first time she could see a man’s head naked of its skull. Saw the cunning thoughts race in and out through the caves and promontories of his mind long before they darted out of the tunnel of his mouth. She saw he was hurting inside so she let it pass without talking.
It got to be terrible in the store. The more his back ached and his muscle dissolved into fat and the fat melted off his bones, the more fractious he became with Janie. Especially in the store. The more people in there the more ridicule he poured over her body to point attention away from his own. (7.8-9)
Joe’s pride in his manhood will not allow him to acknowledge his old age, especially not publicly. Instead, fear for his pride forces him to drag Janie down. Again we see Joe’s standard pattern of trying to build himself up by tearing others down.
[Joe]: "I god amighty! A woman stay round uh store till she get old as Methusalem and still can’t cut a little thing like a plug of tobacco! Don’t’ stand dere rollin’ yo’ pop eyes at me wid yo’ rump hangin’ nearly to yo’ knees!"
A big laugh started off in the store but people got to thinking and stopped. It was funny if you looked at it right quick, but it got pitiful if you thought about it awhile. It was like somebody snatched off part of a woman’s clothes while she wasn’t looking and the streets were crowded. (7.12-13)
Joe’s excessive pride and his insistence on pointing out Janie’s (nonexistent) flaws are becoming noticeable to the community at large. When Joe goes too far in insulting Janie’s looks (which are far from aged and haggard), the townspeople realize how pitiful Joe’s tactics are. Joe hopes that his pride makes him admirable, but now it has rendered him pitiful.