Study Guide

Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 9

By Zora Neale Hurston

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Chapter 9

  • The community puts on a grand funeral for Joe. Tons of people show up.
  • Janie, however, doesn’t feel grief...only a great sense of freedom.
  • After the funeral, Janie burns all of the head-rags that Joe forced her to wear.
  • She lives her life much as she had with Joe. The only public changes she makes are keeping her hair down and allowing herself some indulgence in the gossip on the store’s porch in the evenings.
  • However, Janie still feels lonely and searches for meaning for her life. Her thoughts wander to her deceased Nanny. She decides she hates Nanny for rendering her so unhappy in the name of love and for strangling her dreams.
  • Her new position as a (wealthy) widow draws many men wanting to "advise" her, saying that a woman can’t stand by herself—that a woman needs a man to take care of her. Janie laughs them off; she’s not about to trade in her newfound freedom for another loveless marriage.
  • Ike Green, a local man visiting the store, warns Janie about her suitors. He says these strange men are just looking to take advantage of her.
  • When she assures Ike that she has no interest in marrying, he says she’ll change her mind because she’s still young. Ike predicts that within a few months, she’ll be thinking about remarrying.
  • Ike is wrong, though. After six months (the mourning period), not one of Janie’s suitors has ever gotten farther than the store.
  • Hezekiah, the store assistant and delivery boy, takes to imitating Joe. Janie is greatly amused by him and feels affection for him. Hezekiah starts taking on the role of Janie’s older brother and helps her manage the store and collect rent from her tenants.
  • Janie revels in her freedom.
  • Pheoby talks to Janie about how she might want to consider marrying, but Janie tells her friend that she’s not staying single because she misses Joe; she just loves her freedom. Janie doesn’t care if the whole town knows how she feels.

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