Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Compassion and Forgiveness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Joe]: "Dat’s ‘cause you ain’t got de right feelin’ for nobody. You oughter have some sympathy ‘bout yo’self. You ain’t no hog."
"But, Jody, I meant tuh be awful nice."
"Much as Ah done fun yuh. Holdin’ me up tuh scorn. No sympathy!"
"Naw, Jody, it wasn’t because Ah didn’t have no sympathy. Ah had uh lavish uh dat. Ah just didn’t never git no chance tuh use none of it. You wouldn’t let me." (8.26-29)
Joe’s accusations of Janie being a cold and callous woman simply do not resonate with the reader, who has seen Janie’s side of the struggle. We know that Joe is a hypocrite; he is the one with no sympathy for Janie, always serving only himself and his ego with his big voice. Though he accuses Janie of being inhumane for having no compassion, we know who the real "hog" is.
"Dis sittin’ in de rulin’ chair is been hard on Jody," she muttered out loud. She was full of pity for the first time in years. Jody had been hard on her and others, but life had mishandled him too. Poor Joe! Maybe if she had known some other way to try, she might have made his face different. But what that other way could be, she had no idea. (8.45)
Even when Joe dies unrepentant for all the wrongs he has committed against Janie, she pities him. Where most people would rejoice at Joe’s death, Janie actually shows regret. She wishes that she had known how to treat him better while he was alive. This is rather ironic since Joe voiced no regrets about how he had treated her. This reveals the sheer depth of Janie’s compassion and willingness to forgive, a characteristic that makes her almost Christ-like.
She hated her grandmother and had hidden it from herself all these years under a cloak of pity. She had been getting ready for her great journey to the horizons in search of people; it was important to all the world that she should find them and they find her. But she had been whipped like a cur dog, and run off down a back road after things. It was all according to the way you see things. Some people could look at a mud-puddle and see an ocean with ships. But Nanny belonged to that other kind that loved to deal in scraps. Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon – for not matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you – and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her. She hated the old woman who had twisted her so in the name of love. (9.4)
Here, Janie shows uncharacteristic and absolute anger at her grandmother. Nanny, in Janie’s eyes, has committed the greatest sin by speaking a falsehood to Janie about love – namely, that it comes automatically with marriage. Thus she has desecrated everything that Janie ever valued – life, love, relationships, and the horizon – and Janie unconditionally condemns Nanny. So much for compassion and forgiveness. Janie forgave Joe, dose that mean that Janie believes Nanny was worse to her than Joe?