Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Janie!" Logan called harshly. "Come help me move dis manure pile befo’ de sun gits hot. You don’t take a bit of interest in dis place. ‘Tain’t no use in foolin’ round in dat kitchen all day long…"
"You don’t need mah help out dere, Logan. Youse in yo’ place and Ah’m in mine."
"You ain’t got no particular place. It’s wherever Ah need yuh. Git uh move on yuh, and dat quick." (4.52-54)
Despite her chafing under Logan’s rule, Janie does indeed want boundaries. She likes to think of her "place" in the house, reigning over a domestic sphere. This is her comfort zone. However, Logan’s definition of her place is, ironically, far more confining. He says that her place is wherever he needs her. So, in effect, he wants to strip her identity and freedom.
The morning road air was like a new dress. That made her feel and apron tied around her waist. She untied it and flung it on a low bush beside the road and walked on, picking flowers and making a bouquet. After that she came to where Joe Starks was waiting for her with a hired rig. He was very solemn and helped her to the seat beside him. With him on it, it sat like some high, ruling chair. From now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything. A bee for her bloom. (4.59)
Although Janie doesn’t explicitly say it, she has felt confined in her marriage to Logan. Evidence of this can be found in all the instances where Logan kept trying to put Janie "in her place." So Janie throws off Logan’s constraints with her old apron and finds freedom walking off through the flowered fields and finding Joe ready to take her away to a new, liberated life.
"Whut make her [Janie] keep her head tied up lak some ole ‘oman round de store? Nobody couldn’t git me tuh tie no rag on mah head if Ah had hair lak dat." (5.143)
Janie’s constant wearing of the head-rag attracts public notice. Because people have already seen her gorgeous hair in all its unbound glory, they wonder at why Janie would not want to flaunt such an attribute, but rather keep it all tied up and out of sight. Later we find out that the head rag is another one of Joe’s ways of confining Janie, and jealously attempting to keep her under his control and all to himself.