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)
Janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought. She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just some thing she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. In a way she turned her back upon the image where it lay and looked further. She had no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man, neither any glistening young fruit where the petals used to be. She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about. Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them. She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen. She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them. (6.186)
This is the turning point where Janie loses faith in her former innocent illusions of love with Joe. The loss of innocence inherently means developing "an inside and an outside," instead of being completely honest and wearing her heart on her sleeve. The fact that Janie now has two separate parts of her means that she now has the ability to deceive – to think one thing and express another – a capability that the truly innocent don’t have. Notice also the negation of the nature imagery associated with pure and innocent love – "blossomy openings" with "pollen" and "glistening young fruit" – all of which close up and represent Janie’s fall from innocence.
The years took all the fight out of Janie’s face. For a while she thought it was gone from her soul. No matter what Jody did, she said nothing. She had learned how to talk some and leave some. She was a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels. Sometimes she stuck out into the future, imagining her life different from what it was. But mostly she lived between her hat and her heels, with her emotional disturbances like shade patterns in the woods – come and gone with the sun. She got nothing from Jody except what money could guy, and she was giving away what she didn’t value. (7.1)
Janie’s loss of innocence results in a silencing of her voice. Her imagination – her projection of a better future – is the only thing that keeps her from growing incurably bitter and cynical. She does, however, see the marriage now for what it is – an economic system of exchange in which Joe gives her material goods that do not touch her emotionally, and she responds in kind.
Then one day she sat and watched the shadow of herself going about tending store and prostrating itself before Jody, while all the time she herself sat under a shady tree with the wind blowing through her hair and her clothes. Somebody near about making summertime out of lonesomeness.
This was the first time it happened, but after a while it got so common she ceased to be surprised. It was like a drug. In a way it was good because it reconciled her to things. She got so she received all things with the stolidness of the earth which soaks up urine and perfume with the same indifference. (7.5-6)
In the awful situation that Janie is living in, she seems to protect a degree of her innocence by imagining herself in nature and away from her husband and daily life. This seems to preserve some of her natural purity and innocence, which she later taps into during her marriage with Tea Cake.