Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
It was a cityfied, stylish dressed man with his hat set at an angle that didn’t belong in these parts. His coat was over his arm, but he didn’t need it to represent his clothes. The shirt with the silk sleeveholders was dazzling enough for the world. He whistled, mopped his face and walked like he knew where he was going. He was a seal-brown color but he acted like Mr. Washburn or somebody like that to Janie. (4.14)
Janie is dazzled by this urbane pedestrian’s outfit and jaunty attitude. He seems as if he’s part of another world, one of material wealth and pretty clothes and oozing confidence. His social class seems to be above that of any other black person she’s ever met, so he’s intriguing.
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… (4.16)
Despite his wealthy appearance, Joe is an honest worker just like Janie. He has worked diligently for white people his whole life but has been able to save up money and buy the semblance of white wealth. Unlike many other characters, he doesn’t see his social class as fixed – he plans on breaking into the upper-class with his entrepreneurial schemes.
[Logan]: "Considerin’ youse born in a carriage ‘thout no top to it, and yo’ mama and you bein’ born and raised in de white folks back-yard." (4.40)
Logan looks down on Janie for having lived as the white people’s servant and ward her whole life. He considers himself, in his freedom and hard-earned living, classier than Janie. "Considerin’" she comes from a lower social situation, he thinks she doesn’t have the right to act independent or have many opinions.