Hurston, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, Adapting to the Wild South

“A baby rabbit, terror ridden, squirmed through a hole in the
floor and squatted off there in the shadows against the wall,
seeming to know that nobody wanted its flesh at such a
time. And the lake got madder and madder with only its
dikes between them and him. In a little wind-lull, Tea Cake touched Janie and said, “Ah reckon you wish now you had of stayed in yo’ big house
’way from such as dis, don’t yuh?”
“Naw.”
“Naw?”
“Yeah, naw. People don’t die till dey time come nohow,
don’t keer where you at. Ah’m wid mah husband in uh
storm, dat’s all”” (Hurston 206).

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

Tea Cake believes that Janie when exposed to the fierce winds of a southern storm will wish to return to her old home. However, to his surprise, despite the ferocity of the storm Janie has adapted to and adores the wild lifestyle they live in the south and the storm does not bother her.

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.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Social Context, Bryant Magdaleno

“Janie asked inside of herself and out. She
was back and forth to the pear tree continuously wondering and thinking. Finally out of Nanny’s talk and her own conjectures she made a
sort of comfort for herself. Yes, she would love Logan after they were
married. She could see no way for it to come about, but Nanny and the
old folks had said it, so it must be so. Husbands and wives always
loved each other, and that was what marriage meant.”

Hurston, Zora Neale, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006, pg 23.

Within the text Janie is internalizing the thought of marrying Logan, so with the help of Nanny’s talk to her she creates this thought of social expectation upon herself to justify in her mind her marriage. Janie thinks that love should be and is part of marriage as husband and wife, and the circumstance would not stop this idea of love even if it would be a delayed reaction from her marriage to him . Janie creates this social context on how the outside world would view them as married couple, to her and others they must be in love with each and thus she forces upon herself this idea no matter way they start she will learn to love him. Its within her social context of the idea of marriage and how she images it to be played. The reality she later faces bring her to a harsh realization that the within the social context of her marriage that she does not love Logan which later bring her to break this concept she used to justify her loveless relationship.

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Janie & The “Terrible” Nature of Breaking Silence (Social Context)

“Then Joe Starks realized all the meanings and his vanity bled like a flood… Janie had robbed him of his illusion of irresistible maleness that all men cherish, which was terrible… There was nothing to do in life anymore. Ambition was useless. And the cruel deceit of Janie! Making all that show of humbleness and scorning him all the time! Laughing at him, and now putting the town up to do the same. Joe Starks didn’t know the words for all this, but he knew the feeling. So he struck Janie with all his might and drove her from the shore.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper Perennial Modern Classics,  2006, page 79-80.