Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
This business of the head-rag irked her endlessly. But Jody was set on it. Her hair was NOT going to show in the store. It didn’t seem sensible at all. That was because Joe never told Janie how jealous he was. He never told her how often he had seen the other men figuratively wallowing in it as she went about things in the store. And one night he had caught Walter standing behind and brushing the back of his hand back and forth across the loose end of her braid ever so lightly so as to enjoy the feel of it without Janie knowing what he was doing. Joe was at the back of the store and Walter didn’t see him. He felt like rushing forth with the meat knife and chopping off the offending hand. That night he ordered Janie to tie up her hair around the store. That was all. She was there in the store for him to look at, not those others. (6.31)
Joe treats Janie like a trophy – a prized object, but an object nonetheless. He doesn’t think of her as a human being with her own thoughts and feelings, but as a coveted possession that he must guard against other men, lest they take it from him.
[Joe]: "…but Ah’m uh man even if Ah is de Mayor. But de mayor’s wife is somethin’ different again. Anyhow they’s liable tuh need me tuh say uh few words over de carcass, dis bein’ uh special case. But you ain’t goin’ off in all dat mess uh commonness." (6.71)
Joe hides his fear of losing Janie behind rhetoric of a woman having no place in the "mess uh commonness" that this mockery of a funeral will bring together. By dominating Janie, Joe doesn’t realize that he’s keeping her physically to himself, but losing her emotionally.
"I god, Janie," Starks said impatiently, "why don’t you go on and see whut Mrs. Bogle want? Whut you waitin’ on?"
Janie wanted to hear the rest of the play-acting and how it ended, but she got up sullenly and went inside. She came back to the porch with her bristles sticking out all over her and with dissatisfaction written all over her face. Joe saw it and lifted his own hackles a bit. (6.168-169)
Joe seems to think that he has more of a right to enjoyment and entertainment than Janie. He either doesn’t consider or doesn’t care that Janie might also like to have a bit of fun. As a woman, he turns her into a bit of a personal slave. Notice the use of "Starks" instead of "Joe" or "Jody" showing Janie’s growing emotional distance from him because of his poor treatment of her.