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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

Freedom and Confinement Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #13

Before she slept that night she burnt up every one of her head rags and went about the house next morning with her hair in one thick braid swinging well below her waist. (9.3)

After Joe’s death, Janie revels in the freedom she has to let her hair down as she pleases. Doing so is an expression of joyful liberation and defiance of Joe’s restrictive ways.

Quote #14

She hated her grandmother and had hidden it from herself all these years under a cloak of pity. She had been getting ready for her great journey to the horizons in search of people; it was important to all the world that she should find them and they find her. But she had been whipped like a cur dog, and run off down a back road after things. It was all according to the way you see things. Some people could look at a mud-puddle and see an ocean with ships. But Nanny belonged to that other kind that loved to deal in scraps. Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon – for not matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you – and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her. She hated the old woman who had twisted her so in the name of love. (9.4)

Nanny tried to confine Janie’s sense of value to only material objects or "things" while Janie has always really loved "people." Nanny imposed her narrow sense of the world onto the more broadminded Janie. This concept is illustrated in Janie’s metaphor of the horizon; Nanny took the "biggest thing God ever made" and twisted it into a choking noose that would not let Janie breathe, much less live, in the way she wanted to.

Quote #15

Besides she liked being lonesome for a change. This freedom feeling was fine. (9.7)

After Joe’s death, Janie exults in her freedom. She enjoys being single because it means not having to bow down to a man’s every command.

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