Charles OduroMrs. WeberEnglish 9 Honors, Period 1December. 15. 2017Their Eyes Were Watching God – Chapter 1+2Summary: In the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God written by Zora Neale Hurston, the author starts the plot by defining Janie Mae Crawford’s, the main character, idea of what men are like.
Later, she is seen walking back to her hometown after “burying the dead” (Hurston 1). Once she returns, she immediately gets judged as if forced to tell of her young lover, Tea Cake. Later, she tells her backstory and how it was like living without a father nor mother. She telled of the bullying she had to endure from the other children.
She flashes forward to when she was sixteen, sneaking a kiss with Johnny Taylor. Old Nanny now wants her to get married, to forget Johnny Taylor and move on. The two ladies argue about the situation, until Nanny informs Janie of the hardships she had to endure before she was born. She tells her life as a slave, and how she became to live with the Washburns.
Quotes: When Janie returns from burying the dead, she decides to go back to her hometown. People are ready to criticize and judge, sitting in their porches and staring at the woman they thought they knew. As she walks down the dirt path road, everyone stops watch they are doing, and gossips about her new appearance. To my mind, it seems as if before Jane left, she was a different person. Everyone starts asking questions like “‘What she doin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on?–Where’s dat blue saying dress she left here in?–Where’s all dat money her husband took and died and left her?–What day ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal?–What he done wid her money?–Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even go no hairs–why she don’t stay in her class?–“‘ (Hurston 2). They question everything about Janie’s circumstances, and I believe they should worry about themselves and their business, and not worry about her. I do not believe she deserves the blasphemy she is receiving from the conniving porch gossipers.
They pick he apart, but do not put her back together. They probably do not listen to the actual truth of what Janie did, as all they do is gossip about what she did since they get their reasoning from speculation. They probably think so low of her now because she was the mayor’s wife and was perceived as regal and high. During the flashback of chapter two, we see sixteen year-old Janie Crawford sneaking out of the house, and catching a kiss with Johnny Taylor. Her grandmother, Nanny, sees the two teenagers kiss and arranges for Janie to get married to Logan Killicks. To me it seems as if Nanny is trying to preserve Janie’s innocence. After the two argue, Nanny describes their present-day hierarchy in society, which is “‘… de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out.
Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de loas and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t toe it. He hand it to his womenfolks.
De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see”‘ (Hurston 14). Literary Devices:The author uses personification throughout the novel to give human characteristics to inanimate objects. In the novel, everyone sees Janie coming back from whence she came dirty and disgusting.
The men lust over her new appearance, trying to remember it for future references, while the women watch in envy. It seems to me that they are jealous of Janie Crawford. They begin to criticize and think judgemental as they see “… the woman as she was made them remember the envy they had stored up from other times. So they chewed up the back parts of their minds and swallowed with relish. They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughs.
It was mass cruelty. A mood come alive. Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song” (Hurston 2).
To me, it seems as if these annoying women did not like Janie before she left, and do not like her any better now that she has returned. The long-lived “envy” that these gossipers on the porch have for Janie quickly translates into “burning statements…and…killing tools” all made from words. Their jealousy makes them aggressive and vindictive. Hurston describes the gossipers’ cruel words as “walking without masters,” which makes it seem that everyone is throwing out criticisms, but would never claim them or take responsibility for what they say.
Jealousy is something you show behind the victim’s back when you don’t have to be the master of your words or face repercussions.Personal Insight: