Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Joe Starks Quotes
"All you got tuh do is mind me. How come you can’t do lak Ah tell yuh?"
"You sho loves to tell me whut to do, but Ah can’t tell you nothin’ Ah see!"
"Dat’s ‘cause you need tellin’," he rejoined hotly. "It would be pitiful if Ah didn’t. Somebody got to think for women and chillun and chickens and cows. I god, they sho don’t think none theirselves." (6.174-180
Joe has no qualms telling Janie what to do all the time. When Janie points out that he won’t listen to her, Joe brushes it off and tells her directly what he thinks of women’s intelligence. To him, women are stupid and cannot think for themselves. That’s why men must always speak in the imperative to them, directing their every action. It’s interesting that eventually Joe has an untimely death because he didn’t listen to Janie about how much he needed to see a doctor.
"Janie! Janie! don’t tell me Ah got tuh die, and Ah ain’t used tuh thinkin’ ‘bout it." (8.36)
To Joe, the thought of death is unthinkable and, thus, unspeakable. To him, saying such a thing means giving truth to it.
[Joe]: "You behind a plow! You ain’t got no mo’ business wid uh plow than uh hog is got wid uh holiday! You ain’t got no business cuttin’ up no seed p’taters neither. A pretty doll-baby lak you is made to sit on de front porch and rock and fan yo’self and eat p’taters dat other folks plant just special for you." (4.26)
Like Janie, Joe bases his first assumptions on the pretty girl in front of him purely on looks. However charming he is, his words treat Janie like some adorable little object, not as a serious human being. While he says that since Janie is pretty she shouldn’t be working hard, that also means he doesn’t think ugly women deserve to "sit on de front porch […] and eat p’taters dat other folks plant just special for [her]." Essentially, Joe judges the value of a woman based on her appearance.