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]: "Maybe he ain’t nothin’," she cautioned herself, "but he is something in my mouth. He’s got tuh be else Ah ain’t got nothin’ tuh live for. Ah’ll lie and say he is. If Ah don’t, life won’t be nothin’ but uh store and uh house." (7.3)
Janie deludes herself into thinking that Joe still deserves her love because the alternative would mean being trapped in nothing but "uh store and uh house." Janie cannot imagine a life of such confinement, utterly stripped of meaning and purpose. In reality, Janie’s life is confined to a store, house, and a loveless marriage.
Then one day she sat and watched the shadow of herself going about tending store and prostrating itself before Jody, while all the time she herself sat under a shady tree with the wind blowing through her hair and her clothes. Somebody near about making summertime out of lonesomeness. (7.5)
Janie’s waking life is so enclosed by Joe’s jealousy that she can only find freedom in her thoughts. So she imagines a "shadow of herself" confined in the store while her true self is free to sit among nature’s blessings – under a tree (like her beloved pear tree) in the garden. This is reminiscent about what Nanny said about slavery – you’re physically trapped but your mind and dreams can be free.
She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair. The weight, the length, the glory was there. (8.45)
After years of confinement under Joe’s reign, Janie liberates her hair – a distinctive mark of her femininity – and assesses it. "The weight, the length, the glory" of it confirms that her womanhood is still intact – strong and beautiful as ever. Her new-found freedom is reflected in the return of confidence in her womanhood.