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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God


by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God Joe Starks Quotes

[Joe to Janie:] "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)

On the surface, Joe has a different conception of a woman’s proper role than Logan. A "pretty doll-baby" should be treated like a queen, never obliged to work and always served by others. What the young, naïve Janie does not realize is that Joe doesn’t think that pampering a woman is necessary because she’s a valuable human being, but because she’s a valuable object. This is not so different from Logan after all, who also considers Janie an object. For Joe, women are objects to look at; for Logan, they’re objects to be utilized.

Joe Starks

Quote 2

[Joe:] "…but Ah’m uh man even if Ah is de Mayor. But de mayor’s wife is somethin’ different again. Anyhow they’s liable tuh need me tuh say uh few words over de carcass, dis bein’ uh special case. But you ain’t goin’ off in all dat mess uh commonness." (6.71)

Joe hides his fear of losing Janie behind rhetoric of a woman having no place in the "mess uh commonness" that this mockery of a funeral will bring together. By dominating Janie, Joe doesn’t realize that he’s keeping her physically to himself but losing her emotionally.

"I god, Janie," Starks said impatiently, "why don’t you go on and see whut Mrs. Bogle want? Whut you waitin’ on?"

Janie wanted to hear the rest of the play-acting and how it ended, but she got up sullenly and went inside. She came back to the porch with her bristles sticking out all over her and with dissatisfaction written all over her face. Joe saw it and lifted his own hackles a bit. (6.168-169)

Joe seems to think that he has more of a right to enjoyment and entertainment than Janie. He either doesn’t consider or doesn’t care that Janie might also like to have a bit of fun. As a woman, he turns her into a bit of a personal slave. Notice the use of "Starks" instead of "Joe" or "Jody," showing Janie’s growing emotional distance from him because of his poor treatment of her.