Their Eyes Were Watching God
Language and Communication Quotes Page 12
How we cite our quotes:
She thought back and forth about what had happened in the making of a voice out of a man. (8.45)
In the "making of a voice out of a man," that man (Joe) loses his substantiality and humanity. In becoming just a "big voice," Joe puts all his life force into speaking and loses everything else, including his heart.
"Evenin’, Mis’ Starks. Could yuh lemme have uh pound uh knuckle puddin’ till Saturday? Ah’m sho uh pay tuh then."
"You needs ten pounds, Mr. Tea Cake. Ah’ll let yuh have all Ah got and you needn’t bother ‘bout payin’ it back." (10.54-55)
Tea Cake and Janie jest in words, playing on the idea of "knuckle puddin’" being both a foodstuff and a beating with the fists. Tea Cake, realizing he is in the doghouse for being a little too flirtatious with Janie, requests that Janie beat him with her fists as punishment. Janie, recognizing the pun, returns it, saying that she’ll give him more than he asked for and that he need to pay it back (beat her in return). Joe would never have engaged in this type of wordplay with Janie, because the verbal sparring implies that the speakers are equal. Joe wouldn’t even play checkers with her, let alone talk to her as an equal.
"Who ever heard of uh teacake bein’ called Mister! If you wanta be real hightoned and call me Mr. Woods, dat’s de way you feel about it. If yuh wants tuh be uh lil friendly and call me Tea Cake, dat would be real nice." (10.58)
The dropping of formal titles in discourse marks the breaking down of certain social barriers – like the coldness of addresses between two people who do not know each other very well. Tea Cake wants to close that social distance between himself and Janie linguistically by getting rid of the formal "Mister" title. He hopes that will allow him to get more intimate with Janie.