Their Eyes Were Watching God
How we cite our quotes:
[Joe to Janie]: "I god, Ah don’t see how come yuh can’t [run the store]. ‘Tain’t nothin’ atall tuh hinder yuh if yuh got uh thimble full uh sense. You got tuh. Ah got too much else on mah hands as Mayor. Dis town needs some light right now." (5.111)
Joe’s pride at being mayor blinds him to Janie’s needs. This is the beginning of the end for their marriage.
But the whole town got vain over it after it [the streetlight] came. That was because the Mayor didn’t just take it out of the crate and stick it up on a post. He unwrapped it and had it wiped off carefully and set a time for the lighting and sent word all around Orange County for one and all to come to the lamp lighting. He sent men out to the swamp to cut the finest and straightest cypress post they could find, and kept on sending them back to hunt another one until they found one that pleased him. (5.115)
Joe knows how to manipulate the pride of others, making them want to take pride in their town. To do this, he makes a big public celebration out of something as simple as lamp-lighting. Of course, his ultimate motive is to garner the townspeople’s admiration of him as mayor and feed his own ego.
"But now, Sam, you know dat all he [Joe] do is big-belly round and tell other folks what tuh do. He loves obedience out of everybody under de sound of his voice." (5.136)
After Joe dismisses Pitts from service for stealing from him, the men of Eatonville begin to notice and chafe under Joe’s excessive pride. They recognize him as primarily a voice always commanding others. Joe takes pleasure in having the town’s obedience, but his pride requires that others’ are humiliated.