Their Eyes Were Watching God
Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
[Joe]: "Folkses, de sun is goin’ down. De Sun-maker brings it up in de mornin’, and de Sun-maker sends it tuh bed at night. Us poor weak humans can’t do nothin’ tuh hurry it up nor to slow it down. All we can do, if we want any light after de settin’ or befo’ de risin’, is tuh make some light ourselves. So dat’s how come lamps was made. Dis evenin’ we’se all assembled heah tuh light uh lamp." (5.119)
Joe is so ambitious a man that he will not trust to fate to provide everything he needs. In Eatonville, he isn’t not content to only have light when the sun is up, so he takes the initiative and obtains streetlamps for the whole town. This is one example of Joe taking matters into his own hands and initiating change.
There was no doubt that the town respected him [Joe] and even admired him in a way. But any man who walks in the way of power and property is bound to meet hate. (5.130)
It seems an unwritten law of fate that powerful men draw hate from the general, less powerful public. It is inevitable that Joe, because he gains wealth and opportunities, incites resentment in the townspeople against himself.
[Janie]: "Tain’t really no need of you dying, Jody, if you had of – de doctor – but it don’t do no good bringin’ dat up now. Dat’s just whut Ah wants tuh say, Jody, You wouldn’t listen. You done lived wid me for twenty years and you don’t half know me atall. And you could have but you was so busy worshippin’ de works of yo’ own hands, and cuffin’ folks around in their minds till you didn’t see uh whole heap uh things yuh could have." (8.37)
Fate isn’t compelling Joe to die; Janie points out that it’s been his own choice not to see a doctor. It seems that much of Joe’s life has been about free will; he created his own future by seizing opportunities, and he has destroyed his future by not seeing a doctor or tending to his own health.