Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie Crawford Quotes
"Evenin’, Mis’ Starks. Could yuh lemme have uh pound uh knuckle puddin’ till Saturday? Ah’m sho uh pay tuh then."
"You needs ten pounds, Mr. Tea Cake. Ah’ll let yuh have all Ah got and you needn’t bother ‘bout payin’ it back." (10.54-55)
Tea Cake and Janie jest in words, playing on the idea of "knuckle puddin’" being both a foodstuff and a beating with the fists. Tea Cake, realizing he is in the doghouse for being a little too flirtatious with Janie, requests that Janie beat him with her fists as punishment. Janie, recognizing the pun, returns it, saying that she’ll give him more than he asked for and that he need to pay it back (beat her in return). Joe would never have engaged in this type of wordplay with Janie, because the verbal sparring implies that the speakers are equal. Joe wouldn’t even play checkers with her, let alone talk to her as an equal.
[Janie]: "Ole Massa is doin’ His work now. Us oughta keep quiet."(18.29)
Janie knows that silence can be a sign of respect; thus, she suggests that they all stop their gaming and keep quiet when God’s judgment – in the form of a hurricane – comes.
[Janie to Pheoby]: "Dem meatskins [the gossipers on the porch] is got tuh rattle tuh make out they’s alive. Let ‘em consulate theyselves wid talk. ‘Course, talkin’ don’t amount tuh uh hill uh beans when yuh can’t do nothin’ else. And listenin’ tuh dat kind uh talk is jus’ lak openin’ yo’ mouth and lettin’ de moon shine down yo’ throat. It’s uh known fact Pheoby, you got tuh go there tuh know there. Yo’ papa and yo’ mama and nobody else can’t tell yuh and show yuh. Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves." (20.9)
Janie highlights the crucial difference between talk and action. She characterizes the gossipers on the porch as petty because they live vicariously through talking, never having the guts to strike out for themselves and try living what they talk about.