Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neal Hurston: Janie’s New Life in the South

“Sometimes Janie would think of the old days in the big white house and the store and laugh to herself. What if Eatonville could see her now in her blue denim overalls and heavy shoes? The crowd of people around her and a dice game on her floor! She was sorry for her friends back there and scornful of the others. The men held big arguments here like they used to do on the store porch. Only here, she could listen and laugh and even talk some herself if she wanted to. She got so she could tell big stories herself from listening to the rest. Because she loved to hear it, and the men loved to hear themselves, they would “woof” and “boogerboo” around the games to the limit. No matter how rough it was, people seldom got mad, because everything was done for a laugh” (Hurston 128).

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013.

Janie’s life in the south is almost a polar opposite from what she experienced in the North. She is in love with her husband, more independent, and happier. What this passage particularly highlights is how Janie pities those back in Eatonville, even though they would probably pity her too if they saw how she lived. It’s interesting to see how differently the characters find reasons to pity each other and to believe that one is trapped or wasting away in the lifestyle they have chosen.