Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Innocence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Nanny]: "She [Leafy] was only seventeen, and somethin’ lak dat to happen! Lawd a’mussy! Look lak Ah kind see it all over again. It was a long time before she was well, and by dat time we knowed you was on de way. And after you was born she took to drinkin’ likker and stayin’ out nights. Couldn’t git her to stay here and nowhere else. Lawd knows where she is right now. She ain’t dead, ‘cause Ah’d know it by mah feelings, but sometimes Ah wish she was at rest." (2.73)
Nanny recalls how her own daughter, Leafy, violently lost her innocence. Leafy’s rape by her schoolteacher left the impressionable young girl deeply disturbed. Leafy, after being raped, couldn’t live a normal life because she was haunted by the memory of her violent and unwilling sexual initiation into womanhood. Thus she never develops into a fully healthy woman.
In the few days to live before she went to Logan Killicks and his often-mentioned sixty acres, Janie asked inside of herself and out. She was back and forth to the pear tree continuously wondering and thinking. Finally out of Nanny’s talk and her own conjectures she made a sort of comfort for herself. Yes, she would love Logan after they were married. She could see no way for it to come about, but Nanny and the old folks had said it, so it must be so. Husbands and wives always loved each other, and that was what marriage meant. It was just so. Janie felt glad of the thought, for then it wouldn’t seem so destructive and mouldy. She wouldn’t be lonely anymore. (3.2)
Janie very innocently and naively enters into marriage believing that marriage always brings love. Young Janie equates marriage with love and an end to loneliness. In a way, this passage also foreshadows her loss of innocence – Janie considers forcing a person into a loveless marriage to be "destructive and mouldy" and indeed her first marriage does destroy some of her innocence.
[Janie on Logan]: "He don’t even never mention nothin’ pretty."
She began to cry.
"Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think. Ah…" (3.26-28)
Janie’s innocent ideas about love and marriage being like her experience under the pear tree are being eroded away by her marriage to Logan. When Logan shows no tendencies to even try to achieve this type of immortal beauty, Janie feels cheated.