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 starched and ironed her face and came set in the funeral behind her veil. It was like a wall of stone and steel. The funeral was going on outside. All things concerning death and burial were said and done. Finish. End. Nevermore. Darkness. Deep hole. Dissolution. Eternity. Weeping and wailing outside. Inside the expensive black folds were resurrection and life. She did not reach outside for anything, nor did the things of death reach inside to disturb her calm. She sent her face to Joe’s funeral and herself went rollicking with the springtime across the world. (9.2)
Janie’s development of an inside and outside duality allows her to pretend a deep grief for Joe’s death. However, her liberation from Joe’s iron rule instills a profound happiness in her which is expressed as her internal "rollicking with the springtime" even while she stands with her head bowed at Joe’s funeral. The "resurrection and life" inside her suggests a hope of regaining her innocence.
She hated her grandmother and had hidden it from herself all these years under a cloak of pity. She had been getting ready for her great journey to the horizons in search of people; it was important to all the world that she should find them and they find her. But she had been whipped like a cur dog, and run off down a back road after things. It was all according to the way you see things. Some people could look at a mud-puddle and see an ocean with ships. But Nanny belonged to that other kind that loved to deal in scraps. Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon – for not matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you – and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her. She hated the old woman who had twisted her so in the name of love. (9.4)
In her utter disillusionment, Janie realizes she hates her grandmother for manipulating her and subjecting her to pain – all in the name of love. Janie resents this misguided treatment that caused Janie such suffering in two bad marriages. Janie realizes now that preserving one’s innocence depends on your outlook on the world. Nanny’s pessimistic outlook was, from the very beginning, devoid of innocence and immersed in jaded cynicism. That Nanny imposed her dark outlook on such a pure young girl infuriates Janie.
It was so crazy digging worms by lamp light and setting out for Lake Sabelia after midnight that she felt like a child breaking rules. That’s what made Janie like it. They caught two or three and got home just before day. Then she had to smuggle Tea Cake out by the back gate and that made it seem like some great secret she was keeping from the town. (11.24)
Janie’s adventures with Tea Cake remind her of all the enjoyable mischief of her childhood, reviving pleasant memories of her days of innocence, before Logan and Joe. This is one of the factors that makes Janie fall in love with Tea Cake – his fun-loving ease and childlike spontaneity – that allows Janie to be herself around him. Unlike Logan and Joe, Tea Cake is not inflated with a sense of his own importance and gravity. He seems to be an embodiment of innocence.