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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

Language and Communication Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #13

"Whut is de real name of de place?"

"Some say West Maitland and some say Eatonville. Dat’s ‘cause Cap’n Eaton give us some land along wid Mr. Laurence. But Cap’n Eaton give de first piece." (5.34-35)

The name of the town is in question; "West Maitland" names it according to its geography while "Eatonville" dubs it after its patron. Maybe Eatonville is the name that sticks because it shows that the town is independent. As the first all-black town, it should probably have it’s own name rather than just being know for it’s location west of a white town.

Quote #14

"Everybody come right forward and make merry. I got, it’s mah treat." Jody gave one of his big heh heh laughs and stood back. Janie dipped up the lemonade like he told her. A big tin cup full for everybody. (5.90)

Jody’s "heh heh laugh" is his trademark, marking him as apparently good-natured and somewhat fatherly. However, it is also one aspect of his "big voice" and probably a superficial tactic designed to make people like him. Also, notice how Janie is doing exactly what Joe tells her to.

Quote #15

Another big blow-out of a laugh. Tony was a little peeved at having the one speech of his lifetime ruined like that.

"All y’all know whut wuz meant. Ah don’t see how come – "

"’Cause you jump up tuh make speeches and don’t know how," Lige said.

"Ah wuz speakin’ jus’ all right befo’ you stuck yo’ bill in."

"Naw, you wuzn’t, Tony. Youse way outa jurisdiction. You can’t welcome uh man and his wife ‘thout you make comparison about Isaac and Rebecca at de well, else it don’t show de love between ‘em if you don’t."

Everybody agreed that that was right. It was sort of pitiful for Tony not to know he couldn’t make a speech without saying that. Some tittered at his ignorance. So Tony said testily, "If all them dat’s goin-tuh cut de monkey is done cut it and through wid, we’ll thank Brother Starks tuh a respond." (5.94-99)

Language is integral to a person’s self-concept. If your words are laughed at, like Tony Taylor’s are, you feels as inadequate as your words. The crowd probably is just as ignorant as Tony about how to speak publicly, but they quickly agree with anything that sounds vaguely educated – which is essentially everything that comes out of Joe’s mouth.

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