Their Eyes Were Watching God
Race Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
Joe Starks was the name, yeah Joe Starks from in and through Georgy. Been workin’ for white folks all his life. Saved up some money – round three hundred dollars, yes indeed, right here in his pocket. Kept hearin’ ‘bout them buildin’ a new state down heah in Floridy and sort of wanted to come. But he was makin’ money where he was. But when he heard all about ‘em makin’ a town all outa colored folks, he knowed dat was de place he wanted to be. He had always wanted to be a big voice, but de white folks had all de sayso where he come from and everywhere else, exceptin’ de place dat colored folks was buildin’ theirselves. Dat was right too. De man dat built things oughta boss it. Let colored folks build thing too if dey wants to crow over somethin’. (4.16)
The entrepreneurial Joe has a very strong opinion about black folks. He thinks that, like white people, they should only take credit and pride in what they have built with their own hands. Joe means to be onboard when an all-black town arises because he sees that as his only way to be as influential a man as he wants to be. Joe’s way of coming to terms with the rigid, hierarchical, racist social structure of white towns is to live solely among people of his own race.
[Logan]: "Ah thought you would ‘preciate good treatement. Thought Ah’d take and make somethin’ outa yuh. You think youse white folks by de way you act." (4.42)
Logan seems to think that a black woman can’t demand any respect or good treatment and ought to be happy as her husband’s workhorse. If she demands anything better, Logan thinks that Janie is putting on airs.
On the train the next day, Joe didn’t make many speeches with rhymes to her, but he bought her the best things the butcher had, like apples and a glass lantern full of candies. Mostly he talked about plans for the town when he got there…Janie took a lot of looks at him and she was proud of what she saw. Kind of portly like rich white folks. Strange trains, and people and places didn’t scare him neither. Where they got off the train at Maitland he found a buggy to carry them over to the colored town right away. (5.1)
It’s interesting that Janie associates confidence and ambition as uniquely white characteristics. Janie is proud of and attracted to Joe in part because he seems to break traditional racial boundaries – he stands out.