Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Nanny Quotes
[Nanny]: "So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule ud de world so fur as Ah can see." (2.44)
Black women, as far as Nanny can see, get the worst lot in life. While white men are highest in the hierarchy and look down on black men, the black men in turn drop the burden on the shoulders of their women. Everyone treats black women like animals.
[Nanny to Janie]: "Don’t tell me you done got knocked up already, less see – dis Saturday it’s two month and two weeks."
"No’m, Ah don’t think so anyhow." Janie blushed a little.
"You ain’t got nothin’ to be shamed of, honey, youse uh married ‘oman. You got yo’ lawful husband same as Mis’ Washburn or anybody else!" (3.10-12)
To Nanny, a woman should take pride in bearing her husband’s children. Conversely, unmarried women should be ashamed of getting pregnant. So, in Nanny’s eyes, women’s worth is defined by their position relative to men.
[Nanny] "Well, if he do all dat whut you come in heah wid uh face long as mah arm for?"
"Cause you told me Ah wuz gointer love him, and, and Ah don’t. Maybe if somebody was to tell me how, Ah could do it."
"You come head wid yo’ mouf full uh foolishness on uh busy day. Heah you got uh prop tuh lean on all yo’ bawn days, and big protection, and everybody got tuh tip dey hat tuh you and call you Mis’ Killicks, and you come worryin’ me ‘bout love." (3.17-20)
Janie still considers the idea of love essential to a marriage and she thinks that because she still doesn’t love Logan, something has gone wrong. She earnestly wants to love the man and make the marriage work, but Nanny brushes her worries off as frivolous. In Nanny’s eyes, Janie should be happy simply with her property and status as a respectably married woman; love is irrelevant.