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)
"She was borned in slavery time when folks, dat is black folks, didn’t sit down anytime dey felt lak it. So sittin’ on porches lak de white madam look lak uh might fine thing tuh her. Dat’s whut she wanted for me – don’t keer whut it cost. Git up on uh high chair and sit dere. She didn’t have time tuh think whut tuh do after you got up on de stool uh do nothin’. De object wuz tuh git dere. So Ah got up on de high stool lak she told me, but Pheoby, Ah done nearly languished tuh death up dere…"
"Maybe so, Janie. Still and all Ah’d love tuh experience it for just one year. It look lak heben tuh me from where Ah’m at." (12.32-33)
Janie, now that she’s experienced wealth, knows it doesn’t make her happy. Like Nanny, Pheoby has had a working life and also thinks that a wealthy, idle lifestyle seems pretty nice. Would Janie really be happier poor, or is this a "grass is always greener" kind of situation? Even when she’s working in the Everglades with Tea Cake, she does always have plenty cash in the bank just in case…
"Dem wuzn’t no high mucky mucks. Dem wuz railroad hands and dey womenfolks. You ain’t usetuh folks lak dat and Ah wuz skeered you might git all mad and quit me for takin’ you ‘mongst ‘em. But Ah wanted yuh wid me jus’ de same. Befo’ us got married Ah made up mah mind not tuh let you see no commonness in me. When Ah git mad habits on, Ah’d go off and keep it out yo’ sight. ‘Tain’t mah notion tuh drag you down wid me.
"Looka heah, Tea Cake, if you ever go off from me and have a good time lak dat and then come back heah tellin’ me how nice Ah is, Ah specks tuh kill yuh dead. You heah me?"
"So you aims tuh partake wid everything, hunh?"
"Yeah, Tea Cake, don’t keer what it is." (13.54-57)
In Tea Cake’s mind, he was acting in a way that would keep Janie from being uncomfortable and associating with people inferior to her. To Janie, Tea Cake was keeping her from having a good time. From Janie’s perspective, being one of the upper class elite means having no pleasure in life – not going to parties and not spending time with her husband. What Janie wants most is to share her life with her husband, social status just isn’t that important to her.
[Tea Cake]: "Oh down in de Everglades round Clewiston and Belle Glade where dey raise all dat cane and string-beans and tomatuhs. Folks don’t do nothin’ down dere but make money and fun and foolishness. We must go dere." (13.82)
Tea Cake is attracted to the Everglades because it represents work, money, and "fun and foolishness." It is a place for the lowest social classes among the black people but neither Tea Cake nor Janie care, as long as they can make a decent living and enjoy themselves.