Their Eyes Were Watching God
How we cite our quotes:
[Janie]: "But Ah ain’t goin’ outa here and Ah ain’t gointuh hush. Naw, you gointuh listen tuh me one time befo’ you die. Have yo’ way all yo’ life, trample and mash down and then die ruther than tuh let yo’self heah ‘bout it. Listen, Jody, you ain’t de Jody ah run off down de road wid. You’se whut’s left after he died. Ah run off tuh keep house wid you in uh wonderful way. But you wasn’t satisfied wid me de way Ah was. Naw! Mah own mind had tuh be squeezed and crowded out tuh make room for yours in me. " (8.39)
Janie makes plain to Joe one way that men try to keep women down – by silencing their voices (often by speaking louder than their women or ignoring their pleas). Because a person’s words are a direct product of their mind, Janie recognizes that Joe’s attempts to silence her are an intrusion on her very thoughts.
Then thought about herself. Years ago, she had told her girl self to wait for her in the looking glass. It had been a long time since she had remembered. Perhaps she’d better look. She went over to the dresser and looked hard at her skin and features. The young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place. (8.45)
Even after years of repression and insult from Joe, Janie’s womanly beauty and strength remain. This seems to be Hurston’s way of showing how much women can endure and still emerge with their sense of identity unscathed.
Janie found out very soon that her widowhood and property was a great challenge in South Florida. Before Jody had been dead a month, she noticed how often men who had never been intimates of Joe, drove considerable distances to ask after her welfare and offer their services as advisor.
"Uh woman by herself is uh pitiful thing," she was told over and again. "Dey needs aid and assistance. God never meant ‘em tuh try tuh stand by theirselves. You ain’t been used tuh knockin’ round and doin’ fuh yo’self, Mis’ Starks. You been well taken keer of, you needs a man." (9.5-6)
Women are considered incapable of fending for themselves. Janie’s suitors seem to use this argument to feel that they remain in control, and obscure the fact Janie is in a position of power because of her physical attractiveness and her wealth.