Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Joe Starks Quotes
[Joe]: "Y’all know we can’t invite people to our town just dry long so. I god, naw. We got tuh feed ‘em something, and ‘tain’t nothin’ people laks better’n barbecue. Ah’ll give one whole hawg mah ownself. Seem lak all de rest uh y’all put tuhgether oughta be able tuh scrape up two mo’. Tell yo’ womenfolks tuh do ‘round ‘bout some pies and cakes and sweet p’tater pone." (5.116)
Joe takes on a commanding tone with the citizens of Eatonville, telling them what to do to prepare for a public party. Everyone seems to listen and obey, maybe because he has a big voice, and always sounds confident.
[Joe]: "Ah told you in de very first beginnin’ dat Ah aimed tuh be uh big voice. You oughta be glad, ‘cause dat makes uh big woman outa you." (5.126)
Joe’s idea of becoming a "big voice" or having great influence in Eatonville means a rise in his rank and the respect he commands. To Joe, communication is synonymous with power and influence. It’s important to note that by denying Janie a voice, he is keeping her powerless.
[Joe]: "But it’s awful tuh see so many people don’t want nothin’ but uh full belly and uh place tuh lay down and sleep afterwards. It makes me sad sometimes and then agin it makes me mad. They say things sometimes that tickles me nearly tuh death, but Ah won’t laugh jus tuh dis-incourage ‘em." Janie took the easy way away from a fuss. She didn’t change her mind but she agreed with her mouth. Her heart said, "Even so, but you don’t have to cry about it." (6.94)
Communication clearly isn’t always honest. Joe claims not to laugh when the locals say stupid things, but he sure laughed at a lot of the mule stories, so he’s just plain lying. Similarly, what Janie communicates with her "mouth" is different from what she feels in her heart. Neither of them are truthful with each other, which really doesn’t help their marriage.