Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie Crawford Quotes
Janie stood still while they all comments. When it was all done she stood in front of Joe and said, "Jody, dat wuz uh might fine thing fuh you tuh do. ‘Tain’t everybody would have thought of it, ‘cause it ain’t no everyday thought. Freein’ dat mule makes uh mighty big man outa you. Something like George Washington and Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln, he had de whole United States tuh rule so he freed de Negroes. You got uh town so you freed uh mule. You have tuh have power tuh free things and dat makes you lak uh king uh something."
Hambo said, "Yo’ wife is uh born orator, Starks. Us never knowed dat befo’. She put jus’ de right words tuh our thoughts."(6.60-61)
Like Hambo says, Janie has a gift for words. This directly contradicts what Joe said earlier about Janie not knowing how to make speeches. Janie has just proven that she can indeed speak publicly. This means she could potentially pose a threat to Joe’s power or increase his influence, but he doesn’t notice because he is too busy basking in everyone’s praises and inflating his ego.
[Janie]: "You big-bellies round here and put out a lot of brag, but ‘tain’t nothin’ to it but yo’ big voice. Humph! Talkin’ ‘bout me lookin’ old! When you pull down yo’ britches, you look lak de change uh life." (7.22)
Janie recognizes Joe (and men in general) as nothing but a "big voice"; in other words, Joe’s words have no substance behind them. It’s almost like Janie’s showing that words aren’t good enough on their own, they only have power when there is truth behind them. Then, she goes on to castrate Joe with her incisive words – since her words are true, they’re very potent.
[Janie to Joe]: You ain’t tried tuh pacify nobody but yo’self. Too busy listenin tuh yo’ own big voice." (8.41)
Joe’s obsession with becoming a "big voice" means that he is deafened by his own words; he cannot and will not hear any one else’s words, no matter how legitimate they may be.