Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Janie Crawford Quotes
[Janie]: "Jody classed me off. Ah didn’t. Naw, Pheoby, Tea Cake ain’t draggin’ me off nowhere Ah don’t want tuh go. Ah always did want tuh git round uh whole heap, but Jody wouldn’t ‘low me tuh. When Ah wasn’t in de store he wanted me tuh jes sit wid folded hands and sit dere. And Ah’d sit dere wid de walls creepin’ up on me and squeezin’ all de life outa me. Pheoby, dese educated women got uh heap of things to sit down and consider. Somebody done tole ‘em what to set down for. Nobody ain’t told poor me, so sittin’ still worries me. Ah wants tuh utilize mahself all over." (12.16)
Janie was always viewed as a trophy by Joe, one to be polished and placed on a pedestal and never to be touched by others’ grubby hands. His treatment of her left Janie isolated and bored. While Janie doesn’t directly criticize people of the upper classes, she hated being idle herself and wants to be of some use, implying that high class idleness is essentially a waste. Since none of those educated ladies probably know what they’re sitting around for either, the upper-class women must not be utilizing themselves in any productive way.
[Janie]: "Can’t nothin’ be done fuh his case, doctah? Us got plenty money in de bank in Orlandah, doctah. See can’t yuh do somethin’ special tuh save him. Anything it cost, doctah, Ah don’t keer, but please, doctah."
"Do what I can. Ah’ll phone into Palm Beach right away for the serum which he should have had three weeks ago. I’ll do all I can to save him, Janie. But it looks too late." (19.102-103)
Janie is desperately trying to use all her resources to save Tea Cake. She hopes that her wealth will gain her access to special medication, but she is deluded. No amount of money will save Tea Cake now, the doctor implies. Wealth and class do not always get a person what she wants.
[Janie to Joe] "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." (6.60)
Joe’s altruistic act, as pretentious as it was, of freeing a mule from a life of hard labor is akin – in Janie’s mind – to Lincoln emancipating the black slaves. It shows a degree of generosity rarely found in powerful men. But Joe’s display is just that – all show; he frees the mule to garner public admiration, not because he loves the animal. He does not show the same degree of compassion to his wife or his customers.