We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Their Eyes Were Watching God

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)

Quote #1

She knew things that nobody had ever told her. For instance, the words of the trees and the wind. She often spoke to falling seeds and said, "Ah hope you fall on soft ground," because she had heard seeds saying that to each other as they passed. (3.31)

Having endured a loveless and thankless marriage with Logan, Janie has sympathy for anything that might encounter hardship in life—especially the seeds that remind her of her lovely experience under the pear tree.

Quote #2

When the mule was in front of the store, Lum went out and tackled him. The brute jerked up his head, laid back his ears and rushed to the attack. Lum had to run for safety. Five or six more men left the porch and surrounded the fractious beast, goosing him in the sides and making him show his temper. But he had more spirit left than body. He was soon panting and heaving from the effort of spinning his old carcass about. Everybody was having fun at the mule-baiting. All but Janie.

She snatched her head away from the spectacle and began muttering to herself. "They oughta be shamed uh theyselves! Teasin’ dat poor brute beast like they is! Done been worked tuh death; done had his disposition ruint wid mistreatment, and now they got tuh finish devilin’ ‘im tuh death. Wisht Ah had mah way wid ‘em ali." (6.45-46)

This episode with the tormented mule recalls Nanny’s prophetic words that "de nigger woman is de mule uh de world" in Chapter Two. It comes as no surprise, then, that Janie commiserates with this poor animal, who has had every sort of hard, unwanted burden thrust upon it without its consent. Like the long-suffering black women, the mule has no voice of its own and no choice in the world.

Quote #3

[when Joe commands Janie to get his shoes, after an argument]: She got up without a word and went off for the shoes. A little war of defense for helpless things was going on inside her. People ought to have some regard for helpless things. She wanted to fight about it. "But Ah hates disagreement and confusion, so Ah better not talk. It makes it hard tuh git along." (6.49)

Janie’s sympathy for "helpless things" links her helplessness as a victim of Joe to the mule’s helplessness as a beast of burden for Matt Bonner.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...