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)
So Janie waited a bloom time, and a green time and an orange time. But when the pollen again gilded the sun and sifted down on the world she began to stand around the gate and expect things. What things? She didn’t know exactly…The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up the road towards way off. She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman. (3.31)
Though Janie is still inexperienced enough not to know what she really wants, she sure doesn’t want Logan. Her innocence makes her yearn still for chivalric love but her horrible experience with Logan has gone a long way in killing her dream. The fact that "she became a woman" at the death of her dream means that womanhood is partly defined by suffering, disillusionment, and a loss of innocence.
The morning road air was like a new dress. That made her feel and apron tied around her waist. She untied it and flung it on a low bush beside the road and walked on, picking flowers and making a bouquet. After that she came to where Joe Starks was waiting for her with a hired rig. He was very solemn and helped her to the seat beside him. With him on it, it sat like some high, ruling chair. From now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything. A bee for her bloom. (4.59)
The emphasis on newness in the first half of the passage recalls Janie’s youth, when everything, particularly the products of nature, seemed new and wonderful. This feeds appropriately into Janie’s decision to start a new life and try for in Eden-like innocence – represented by "flower dust and springtime" – with a man who seems to want nothing more than to love Janie.
So gradually, she pressed her teeth together and learned to hush. The spirit of the marriage left the bedroom and took to living in the parlor. It was there to shake hands whenever company came to visit, but it never went back inside the bedroom again. So she put something in there to represent the spirit like a Virgin Mary image in a church. The bed was no longer a daisy-field for her and Joe to play in. It was a place where she went and laid down when she was sleepy and tired.
She wasn’t petal-open anymore with him. She was twenty-four and seven years married when she knew. (6.184-185)
At this point, Janie is totally disillusioned with her marriage to Joe. There is no longer any sense of love or youth or innocence in their relationship. However, Janie still cherishes hopes of pure and innocent love, and attempts to keep this aspect of herself alive by cherishing "something" reminiscent of the Virgin Mary. Also, notice all the plant imagery – "daisy-fields" and "petal-open" – that symbolizes Janie’s lost innocence and illusions of love with Joe.