Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Take for instance the case of Matt Bonner’s yellow mule. They had him up for conversation every day the Lord sent. Most especial if Matt was there himself. Sam and Lige and Walter were the ringleaders of the mule-talkers. The others threw in whatever they could chance upon… (6.2)
The Eatonville community enjoys poking fun at Matt Bonner for his treatment of his yellow mule. All their conversation centers around the rather frivolous subject of the yellow mule and they only talk about it to put down Matt Bonner and make themselves feel bigger. The men use language to both tear people down and build themselves up.
Janie came back out front and sat own. She didn’t say anything and neither did Joe. But after a while he looked down at his feet and said, "Janie, Ah reckon you better go fetch me dem old black gaiters. Dese tan shoes sets mah feet on fire. Plenty room in ‘em, but they hurts regardless."
She got up without a word and went off for the shoes. A little war of defense for helpless things was going on inside her. People ought to have some regard for helpless things. She wanted to fight about it. "But Ah hates disagreement and confusion, so Ah better not talk. It makes it hard tuh git along." (6.48-49)
Because Janie wants to preserve peace between her and Joe, she remains silent and does not protest his demands like she wants to. She seems to be somewhat brainwashed into thinking that it’s better for her not to say anything, and that instead of communication bringing clarity and understanding, her words will bring "disagreement and confusion."
Janie stood still while they all comments. When it was all done she stood in front of Joe and said, "Jody, dat wuz uh might fine thing fuh you tuh do. ‘Tain’t everybody would have thought of it, ‘cause it ain’t no everyday thought. Freein’ dat mule makes uh mighty big man outa you. Something like George Washington and Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln, he had de whole United States tuh rule so he freed de Negroes. You got uh town so you freed uh mule. You have tuh have power tuh free things and dat makes you lak uh king uh something."
Hambo said, "Yo’ wife is uh born orator, Starks. Us never knowed dat befo’. She put jus’ de right words tuh our thoughts."(6.60-61)
Like Hambo says, Janie has a gift for words. This directly contradicts what Joe said earlier about Janie not knowing how to make speeches. Janie has just proven that she can indeed speak publicly. This means she could potentially pose a threat to Joe’s power or increase his influence, but he doesn’t notice because he is too busy basking in everyone’s praises and inflating his ego.