Study Guide

Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 4

By Zora Neale Hurston

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Chapter 4

  • Janie’s marriage has gone all wrong. Essentially, the honeymoon period is over, and Logan has come to take Janie for granted.
  • Logan and Janie bicker about chopping wood. Logan thinks Janie should be able to haul wood, and maybe even chop it, too. After all, his first wife chopped wood…blah blah blah. We could be wrong, but talking about your first wife doesn’t seem like a good way to win your current wife’s heart.
  • One day, Logan asks Janie to help him prepare potatoes for planting while he goes off to bargain for a second mule. When Janie asks him what they need with two mules, he says he’s looking for a big harvest and this other mule has been "all gentled up so even uh woman kin handle ‘im."
  • Apparently, Logan thinks that Janie should be plowing the fields and planting potatoes along with keeping the house and making meals.
  • While he is away, Janie sees an urban, stylish, confident man walk down the road. To get his attention, she furiously pumps water, which is loud, and the effort makes her beautiful hair cascade down. (Her hair is super attractive: everyone comments on it.)
  • The stranger stops, eyes her meaningfully, and asks for a cold drink.
  • She learns that he is Joe Starks from Georgia, and he’s heard of a town made up completely of black people who are going to build and run their own city. He means to find the town, go in early, invest, and get rich.
  • They flirt, and it’s obvious that Joe wants to see Janie made a proper lady, not laboring behind a plow.
  • Joe decides to stay in the area for a week or two of rest. He and Janie find lots of time to talk.
  • It’s clear that Joe is interested in Janie. He spends his time talking about what a great future he has ahead of him.
  • Though Janie is obviously unhappy with Logan, she has a few reasons keeping her from just ditching him for Joe. First of all, Nanny wanted her to marry Logan. Secondly, it’s nice that Joe would bring a new, unimaginable kind of life, but she also doesn’t imagine having pear tree blossom love with him, either.
  • The day before Joe leaves town, he assures her that he wants to make a proper wife out of her; he doesn’t just want to haul her off like a rogue. After all, Joe assures Janie that he’s "uh man wid principles."
  • He promises to come down the road beyond the gate the next morning, and, if she wants to come, she’ll meet him and they’ll run away together.
  • That night in bed, Janie considers the opportunity. When she tries to talk with Logan, he keeps blabbering about how grateful she should be to have him, considering her parentage.
  • Then, she poses to Logan a hypothetical situation: she asks him what he’d do if she ran away. Though it strikes a powerful fear in Logan, he scoffs at her and says no man aside from him is foolish enough to want her.
  • The next morning, they argue. While Janie is making breakfast, Logan starts yelling at her to help him move a manure pile. She refuses, saying she’s in her place (the kitchen or home) and he’s in his (working outdoors).
  • Logan responds, claiming that her place is where he wants her.
  • Janie has had enough of Logan, and she tells him that he hasn’t done her a favor by marrying her. To top it off, she doesn’t care at all for his 60 acres.
  • Enraged, Logan calls her spoiled, thinks that she looks down on him because she was raised in a white household, and says that her mother and grandmother weren’t hardworking. And, he threatens to kill her with an axe.
  • We imagine she doesn’t have much of a dilemma anymore about running away with Joe.
  • Janie isn’t even mad. She finishes breakfast for Logan, and all the while she can feel a change coming.
  • After breakfast, she tosses away her apron, and she wanders down the road to meet up with Joe.

(Click the summary infographic to download.)

  • Janie has high hopes. She believes she’ll have love and romance in her life from now on.
  • Together in a carriage, Joe and Janie ride to Green Cove Springs, where they're married.

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