Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Joe Starks Quotes
[Joe]: "Somebody got to think for women and chillun and chickens and cows. I god, they sho don’t think none theirselves."
"Ah knows uh few things, and womenfolks thinks sometimes too!"
"Aw naw they don’t. They just think they’s thinkin’. When Ah see one thing Ah understands ten. You see ten things and don’t understand one." (6.180-182)
Joe considers women on the same intellectual level as children and domesticated animals. He imposes this view on Janie, never considering how it feels to be a woman. When she protests, he gets more adamant, attempting to maintain a position of authority by harping on women’s stupidity and lack of perception.
[Joe]: "Folkses, de sun is goin’ down. De Sun-maker brings it up in de mornin’, and de Sun-maker sends it tuh bed at night. Us poor weak humans can’t do nothin’ tuh hurry it up nor to slow it down. All we can do, if we want any light after de settin’ or befo’ de risin’, is tuh make some light ourselves. So dat’s how come lamps was made. Dis evenin’ we’se all assembled heah tuh light uh lamp." (5.119)
Joe is so ambitious a man that he will not trust to fate to provide everything he needs. In Eatonville, he isn’t not content to only have light when the sun is up, so he takes the initiative and obtains streetlamps for the whole town. This is one example of Joe taking matters into his own hands and initiating change.
[Joe]: "Shet de door behind yuh, Janie. Lum is too busy wid de hawses."
After more shouting of advice and orders and useless comments, the town escorted the carcass off. No, the carcass moved off with the town, and left Janie standing in the doorway. (6.72-73)
Janie is confined in her house when she really wants to go off with the town and watch the mule’s fun funeral. Joe traps her by playing on her dignity and the image of the door shutting behind Janie as the town moves freely away emphasizes the degree of Janie’s immobility.