Their Eyes Were Watching God
Gender Quotes Page 14
How we cite our quotes:
Pretty soon the girl that was waiting table for Mrs. Turner brought in the order and Sterrett took his fish and coffee in his hands and stood there. Coodemay wouldn’t take his off the tray like he should have.
"Naw, you hold it fuh me, baby, and lemme eat," he told the waitress. He took the fork and started to eat off the tray. (17.25-26)
Coodemay takes advantage of the waitress’s position as a woman and servant to her customers by assuming she will not complain about holding his plate for him while he eats. This thoughtlessness shows how deeply the stereotype of female inferiority was rooted in the society depicted in the novel.
Mrs. Turner saw with dismay that Tea Cake’s taking them out was worse than letting them stay in. She ran out in the back somewhere and got her husband to put a stop to things. He came in, took a look and squinched down into a chair in an off corner and didn’t open his mouth. (17.38)
Mr. Turner acts in a decidedly non-masculine way, refusing to defend his wife’s honor and taking a passive role by sitting down silently to watch the fight rather than participate in it. Mrs. Turner, by default, is forced to take on a stereotypically masculine role and fight for her own honor.
[Mrs. Turner]: "What kinda man is you, Turner? You see dese no count niggers come in heah and break up mah place! How kin you set and see yo’ wife all trompled on? You ain’t no kinda man at all. You seen dat Tea Cake shove me down! Yes you did! You ain’t raised yo’ hand tuh do nothin’ about it." (17.43)
Mrs. Turner castigates Mr. Turner in a rather domineering masculine tone. She accuses him of effeminacy. By her rants, readers can discover what exactly in this novel is considered effeminate in a man – silence and passivity.