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)
[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)
Janie’s demeanor is too proud for her poor station in life, according to Logan. Apparently, by marrying a woman of a lower social position, Logan was expecting to have Janie feeling gratefully and completely indebted to him. Since he’s also hoping to "make somethin’ outa" Janie, he apparently considers her to be of very little significance the way she is right now.
The morning road air was like a new dress. That made her feel and apron tied around her waist. She untied it and flung it on a low bush beside the road and walked on, picking flowers and making a bouquet. After that she came to where Joe Starks was waiting for her with a hired rig. He was very solemn and helped her to the seat beside him. With him on it, it sat like some high, ruling chair. (4.59)
By throwing off her apron and accepting a high seat next to Joe, Janie symbolically discards her status as a domestic, working-class woman. She emerges to take a seat in higher class, among the people who sit in a "high, ruling chair." Interestingly, Janie has social mobility not because of intelligence or talent or education, but because she’s beautiful.
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)
Joe shows his ambition to get into a higher class by flaunting his wealth to Janie, buying her all sorts of treats like "apples and a glass lantern full of candies." Showing off the new social class that he’s brought her into is also his way of trying to endear himself to her. Maybe he sees rhymes and poetry as a poor man’s way of romancing the woman he loves, and money and gifts as the higher class equivalent.