Their Eyes Were Watching God
Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
[Nanny]: "How come?"
"’Cause I hates de way his [Logan’s] head is so long one way and so flat on de sides and dat pone uh fat back uh his neck."
"He never made his own head. You talk so silly." (3.24-26)
Although young Janie resents Logan for his ugliness, Nanny makes the wise observation that Logan had no choice in his looks. Clearly, however, Logan’s looks to impact the way his life plays out – Janie leaves him in part because he isn’t pretty. Janie’s fate is also subject to her looks; at least her first two marriages, which both give her increasing social status, are a direct result of her attractiveness.
Nanny sent Janie along with a stern mien, but she dwindled all the rest of the day as she worked. And when she [Nanny] gained the privacy of her own little shack she stayed on her knees so long she forgot she was there herself….Towards morning she muttered, "Lawd, you know mah heart. Ah done de best Ah could do. De rest is left to you." She scuffled up from her knees and fell heavily across the bed. A month later she was dead. (3.30)
Despite all her misfortune, Nanny entrusts herself to God/Fate. Her prayer shows that she believes that in order to have a good life, two things are necessary: you need to work hard and do your part, and trust that God will do the rest.
Janie pulled back a long time because he [Joe] did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees, but he spoke for far horizon. He spoke for change and chance. (4.28)
Joe’s entire philosophy on life is to discount God and take your fate into your hands. He believes that men make their destinies, not some omnipotent powers-that-be. Joe represents the "far horizon […] change and chance" because he believes in striking out, full of ambition and making your way in the world.