Their Eyes Were Watching God
Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Ah don’t mean to bother wid tellin’ ‘em nothin’, Pheoby. ‘Tain’t worth the trouble. You can tell ‘em what I say if you wants to. Dat’s just de same as me ‘cause mah tongue is in mah friend’s mouf." (1.51)
Janie trusts Pheoby enough to repeat what she says faithfully to the porch gossips. This idea of linguistic integrity perhaps bolsters readers’ trust in Janie when she starts retelling her story, because it is obvious she values truth.
[Janie]: "To start off wid, people like dem wastes up too much time puttin’ they mouf on things they don’t know nothin’ about […]"
[Pheoby]: "[…] so long as they get a name to gnaw on they don’t care whose it is, and what about, ‘specially if they can make it sound like evil." (1.53-54)
Gossipers, according to Janie and Pheoby, have no greater purpose in life than to take someone’s words and twist them to make them sound "like evil." They find great pleasure in defaming others, whether or not such infamy is deserved.
They sat there in the fresh young darkness close together. Pheoby eager to feel and do through Janie, but hating to show her zest for fear it might be thought mere curiosity. Janie was full of that oldest human longing – self revelation. Pheoby held her tongue for a long time, but she couldn’t help moving her feet. So Janie spoke. (1.56)
Here, Hurston points out that it is natural for people not only to be curious but to want to talk about themselves. The "oldest human longing" – according to Hurston – is the desire to tell your story to eager ears, to garner sympathy from others, and to connect to other human beings through words.