Their Eyes Were Watching God
How we cite our quotes:
[Joe]: "I god amighty! A woman stay round uh store till she get old as Methusalem and still can’t cut a little thing like a plug of tobacco! Don’t’ stand dere rollin’ yo’ pop eyes at me wid yo’ rump hangin’ nearly to yo’ knees!"
A big laugh started off in the store but people got to thinking and stopped. It was funny if you looked at it right quick, but it got pitiful if you thought about it awhile. It was like somebody snatched off part of a woman’s clothes while she wasn’t looking and the streets were crowded. (7.12-13)
Joe’s excessive pride and his insistence on pointing out Janie’s (nonexistent) flaws are becoming noticeable to the community at large. When Joe goes too far in insulting Janie’s looks (which are far from aged and haggard), the townspeople realize how pitiful Joe’s tactics are. Joe hopes that his pride makes him admirable, but now it has rendered him pitiful.
Then Joe Starks realized all the meanings and his vanity bled like a flood. Janie had robbed him of his illusion of irresistible maleness that all men cherish, which was terrible. The thing that Saul’s daughter had done to David. But Janie had done worse, she had cast down his empty armor before men and they had laughed, would keep on laughing. When he paraded his possessions hereafter, they would not consider the two together. They’d look with envy at the things and pity the man that owned them. When he sat in judgment it would be the same. Good-for-nothing’s like Dave and Lum and Jim wouldn’t change place with him. For what can excuse a man in the eyes of other men for lack of strength? Raggedy-behind squirts of sixteen and seventeen would be giving him their merciless pity out of their eyes while their mouths said something humble. There was nothing to do in life anymore. Ambition was useless. And the cruel deceit of Janie! Making all that show of humbleness and scorning him all the time! Laughing at him, and now putting the town up to do the same. (7.27)
Finally, Hurston links pride almost directly to masculinity. For men, there is a one-to-one correspondence between pride and masculinity. Janie’s act of publicly belittling Joe’s manhood is a metaphoric act of castration that Joe, and every other man present, is sensitive to. When a man of such pride as Joe loses his masculinity publicly at the hands of a "weak" woman, he loses everything. Thus, Joe characterizes Janie as a traitor.
She [Annie Tyler] was broken and her pride was gone, so she told those who asked what had happened. Who Flung had taken her to a shabby room in a shabby house in a shabby street and promised to marry her next day. They stayed in the room two whole days then she woke up to find Who Flung and her money gone. She got up to stir around and see if she could find him, and found herself too worn out to do much. All she found out was that she was too old a vessel for new wine…. (13.13)
A woman’s pride, unlike a man’s is directly tied to her marriage. A woman cannot stand independently from men and expect to be taken seriously. Annie Tyler lost her pride when the conniving Who Flung makes a mockery of their engagement by seducing her to come to town and then making off with her money. When he doesn’t keep his promise of marrying her, it is not Who Flung who is shamed, but Annie Tyler. It’s pretty hypocritical to cast blame on the woman for what the man has done, but such were the norms of society.