Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie Crawford Quotes
[Janie]: "Stop mixin’ up mah doings wid mah looks, Jody. When you git through tellin’ me how tuh cut uh plug uh tobacco, then you kin tell me whether mah behind is on straight or not." (7.14)
Janie’s admonishment that Joe to "stop mixin’ up [her] doings wid [her] looks" points out one way that men try to keep women down – by assuming that their good looks must somehow compromise their intelligence. Joe might also think that if Janie doesn’t know how beautiful she is, she won’t think she can get a better man and run away with him. This is reminiscent of Logan Killicks when he told Janie that no other man but him could possibly want her, even though he knew he was lying.
[Janie to Pheoby]: "Ah’m older than Tea Cake, yes. But he done showed me where it’s de thought dat makes de difference in ages. If people thinks de same they can make it all right. So in the beginnin’ new thoughts had tuh be thought and new words said. After Ah got used tuh dat, we gits ‘long jus’ fine. He done taught me de maiden language all over. Wait till you see de new blue satin Tea Cake done picked out for me tuh stand up wid him in. High heel slippers, necklace, earrings, everything he wants tuh see me in." (12.40)
Janie justifies her ostentatious choice in clothing by claiming that Tea Cake has "taught [her] de maiden language all over [again]." Thus, because she speaks like a maiden (young woman), she must be a maiden. While her logic may be faulty, readers may assume that because Janie feels young again, she dresses accordingly. Instead of having two separate Janie’s – the external and internal – like she did with Joe, Janie now shows on the outside how she feels on the inside.
[Janie]: "…Ah jus’ uh ole woman dat nobody don’t want but you."
"Naw, you ain’t neither. You only sound ole when you tell folks when you wuz born, but wid de eye you’se young enough tuh suit most any man. Dat ain’t no lie. Ah knows plenty mo’ men would take yuh and work hard fuh de privilege. Ah done heard ‘em talk." (19.124-125)
Tea Cake takes Janie’s remark, which did not even explicitly refer to appearance, and turns it into something about her beauty. Tea Cake uses her good looks and youthful appearance to justify his jealousy, which is the last thing that Janie wants. So again, are Janie’s good looks a curse or a blessing?