Their Eyes Were Watching God
Gender Quotes Page 10
How we cite our quotes:
[Janie to Tea Cake]: "If it wuz me, Ah’d wait on uh train. Seben miles is uh kinda long walk."
"It would be for you, ‘cause you ain’t used to it. But Ah’m seen women walk further’n dat. You could too, if yuh had it tuh do." (10.44-45)
Janie seems to some extent to see herself as Joe intended – weak and incapable as a woman. Tea Cake sets to work undoing some of the damage Joe has done, assuring Janie that she is stronger than she thinks. To reinforce the idea, he tells her of other women he has seen walk seven full miles.
[Tea Cake to Janie]: "Jes lak uh lil girl wid her Easter dress on. Even nice!" He locked the door and shook it to be sure and handed her the key. "Come on now, Ah’ll see yuh inside yo’ door and git on down de Dixie." (10.60)
Even though Tea Cake tries to treat men and women equally, he still unconsciously considers women weaker than men; he assumes they require men to escort them back home safely. He calls Janie a "lil girl wid her Easter dress on," somewhat diminishing her image and seriousness. Though chivalric, Tea Cake’s language and offer to walk Janie home might be read as sexist. Or we could read it as his way of attempting to get an invitation to come inside her home.
[Pheoby about Janie]: "Still and all, she’s her own woman. She oughta know by now whut she wants tuh do." (12.7)
Pheoby, being a woman, recognizes that women are intelligent and know what they want out of life and out of their men. She sees that independence in Janie and thus awards her friend with the title of being "her own woman." This sense of self-ownership and self confidence is usually reserved for a man. Thus, this can be seen as one instance of Janie crossing the traditional boundaries between men and women.