Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie Crawford Quotes
[Janie]: "Dere wuz uh knotty head gal name Mayrella dat useter git mad every time she look at me. Mis’ Washburn useter dress me up in all de clothes her gran’chillun didn’t need no mo’ which still wuz better’n whut de rest uh de colored chillun had. And then she useter put hair ribbon on mah head fuh me tuh wear. Dat useter rile Mayrella uh lot. So she would pick at me all de time and put some others up tuh do de same. They’d push me ‘way from de ring plays and make out they couldn’t play wid nobody dat lived on premises. Den they’d tell me not to be takin’ on over mah looks ‘cause they mama told ‘em ‘bout de hound dawgs huntin’ mah papa all night long." (2.10)
Even as a child, Janie is singled out and ostracized for her good looks. These natural attributes are only enhanced by the rich white-people’s clothing that she is privileged enough to wear. This little anecdote shows that women have hated Janie for her appearance for her entire life. Later, we learn that men have always loved her for it. So is her beauty a curse or a blessing?
[Janie on Logan]: "He look like some ole skullhead in de grave yard." (2.36)
Young naïve Janie judges men purely on their looks. Perhaps this comes from a sense of pride over her own beauty. Although Logan is ugly, he has positive attributes like his diligence and loyalty towards Janie. Young Janie is blinded by his outer ugliness. Later from Joe, she learns that being attractive, doesn’t make a man a good husband.
[Janie on Logan]: "His belly is too big too, now, and his toe-nails look lak mule foots. And ‘tain’t nothin’ in de way of him washin’ his feet every evenin’ before he comes tuh bed. ‘Tain’t nothin’ tuh hinder him ‘cause Ah places de water for him. Ah’d ruther be shot wid tacks tan tuh turn over in de bed and stir up de air whilst he is in dere. He don’t even never mention nothin’ pretty."
She began to cry.
"Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think. Ah…" (3.26-28)
Young Janie’s conception of the beautiful extends to more than just the visible. She also takes offense that Logan does make himself smell pretty either. He is utterly ugly in every way possible to Janie. Even in his speech he "never mention nothin’ pretty." His image desecrates her idealized image of true love – "under a pear tree" – which is beautiful to see and pleasing in every other way as well.