Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Nanny Quotes
[Nanny]: "How come?"
"’Cause I hates de way his [Logan’s] head is so long one way and so flat on de sides and dat pone uh fat back uh his neck."
"He never made his own head. You talk so silly." (3.24-26)
Although young Janie resents Logan for his ugliness, Nanny makes the wise observation that Logan had no choice in his looks. Clearly, however, Logan’s looks to impact the way his life plays out – Janie leaves him in part because he isn’t pretty. Janie’s fate is also subject to her looks; at least her first two marriages, which both give her increasing social status, are a direct result of her attractiveness.
[Nanny]: "Whut Ah seen just now is plenty for me, honey, Ah don’t want no trashy nigger, no breath-and-britches, lak Johnny Taylor usin’ yo’ body to wipe his foots on." (2.27)
Nanny considers Johnny Taylor far below her and Janie’s station. This is apparent because she uses words like "trashy" and "breath-and-britches," implying that Johnny is poor. She equates his low social status with negative intentions toward Janie – which may or may not be the case. Still, Nanny uses social status as a way of determining a person’s value and integrity.
[Nanny to Janie]: "If you don’t want him [Logan], you sho oughta. Heah you is wid de onliest organ in town, amongst colored folks, in yo’ parlor. Got a house bought and paid for and sixty acres uh land right on de big road and…Lawd have mussy! Dat’s de very prong all us black women gits hung on. Dis love! Dat’s just whut’s got us uh pullin’ and haulin’ and sweatin’ and doin’ from can’t see in de mornin’ till can’t see at night." (3.21)
Nanny envies the middle-class white life, valuing key material objects that signify wealth like organs (not like kidneys, but the piano-like instrument), houses, and "sixty acres uh land." She wants that kind of wealth for Janie and assumes that social status and worldly goods will automatically bring happiness.