Their Eyes Were Watching God
How we cite our quotes:
Nanny on Leafy]: "Dat school teacher had done hid her in de woods all night long, and he had done raped mah baby and run on off just before day."
"She was only seventeen, and somethin’ lak dat to happen! Lawd a’ mussy! Look lak Ah kin see it all over again. It was a long time before she was well, and by dat time we knowed you was on de way. And after you was born she took to drinkin’ likker and stayin’ out nights. Couldn’t git her to stay here and nowhere else. Lawd knows where she is right now." (2.72-73)
Here, Janie learns that the sex act – which she has seen performed only in terms of love – can be used to hurt. Leafy was only seventeen when she was raped and impregnated by her schoolteacher, and it was such a traumatic experience that she never recovered. This serves as a warning to Janie not to idealize sex or mistake it for love.
They fought on. "You done hurt mah heart, now you come wid uh lie tuh bruise mah ears! Turn go mah hands!" Janie seethed. But Tea Cake never let go. They wrestled on until they were doped with their own fumes and emanations; till their clothes had been torn away; till he hurled her to the floor and held her there melting her resistance with the heat of his body, doing things with their bodies to express the inexpressible; kissed her until she arched her body to meet him and they fell asleep in sweet exhaustion. (15.14)
Janie’s and Tea Cake’s fight over Nunkie turns into a steamy round of lovemaking. Here, Hurston highlights the similarities between wild passion and rage.
[Mr. Turner to Tea Cake]: "Ah reckon you ain’t [seen their children] ‘cause dey all passed on befo’ dis one wuz born. We ain’t had no luck atall wid our chillun. We lucky to raise him. He’s de last stroke of exhausted nature." (16.40)
Mr. and Mrs. Turner’s lukewarm love life is reflected in their sex life. Mr. Turner, nagged to death by Mrs. Turner’s brash and incessant words, can only emit enough passion to produce one healthy child.