Quotes or quotations are phrases, sentences, lines taken from a literary work. They often represent some universal truths and themes of a story, play, or poem. Quotes in Their Eyes Were Watching Gods by Zora Neal Hurston not only present the dilemma of racism but also discuss gender and power issues. Some of the major quotes in Their Eyes Were Watching Gods have been discussed below.
Quotes in Their Eyes Were Watching God
Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.
These are the opening lines of the novel. The narrator talks about the destiny of men as the last word suggests. In fact, the narration foreshadows the events metaphorically. The lines compare Janie’s life’s ups and downs to waves. She also adds that dreams seem that a ship carrying these wishes sometimes confronts tides and sometimes sails smoothly until the subject resigns to the time’s obstacles. This happens with every person.
She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation.
Here the narrator describes Janie’s awareness of her desire for love. These lines mark the end of her childhood. She observes the bee pollinating on the flowers and the blossoming of the pear tree. This feeling allows her to explore the new relationship with Johnny Taylor as she shares her first kiss with him.
Honey, 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.
Nanny tells Janie about the hierarchy and dominance of masculinity in the world. Nanny tells her that the white man has all the power, while the black man has nothing. She tells her that black women are least of them and often victimized. She also talks about the discrimination women face.
The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up the road towards way off. She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.
Janie marries Logan Killicks who is very older than her. As there is no bonding between them, she thinks that marriage does not mean love. It was a hollow dream that she would find true love in marriage. Although she has become mature and adult, she does not find true love until later.
From now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything. A bee for her bloom. Her old thoughts were going to come in handy now, but new words would have to be made and said to fit them.
Here Janie is expecting to marry Jody Starks, marking her second marriage. She feels leaving Logan is freedom or transformation. She hopes to have a life of love and happy marriage with Jody Starks.
Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife don’t know nothin’ ’bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh woman and her place is in de home.”
The above lines are spoken by Jody Starks, who is revealed to a power-hungry person. Also known as Joe Starks, he is addressing the townsmen that his wife does not speak to the people as she knows nothing about speech making. He believes that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. This shows the power of patriarchy during that time.
You don’t know half as much ’bout us as you think you do. It’s so easy to make yo’self out God Almighty when you ain’t got nothin’ tuh strain against but women and chickens.”
Janie speaks to the women to defend Mrs. Robbins that the women know nothing about themselves. She says that they speak as if they know everything like God, but they are actually always at home rearing chickens and doing nothing. Here, Janie speaks her mind and reminds the women that the outside world is a lot bigger than the kitchen and garden.
You done lived wid me for twenty years and you don’t half know me atall. And you could have but you was so busy worshippin’ de works of yo’ own hands, and cuffin’ folks around in their minds till you didn’t see uh whole heap uh things yuh could have.”
After twenty years of her marriage, Janie finally speaks out to Joe Starks. He is on his deathbed, as she reminds him of his ignorance. She reminds him that he has been busy in his work and telling people what to do and what not to do. She tells him that he never paid attention to his own wife. She is of the view that he has been biased and never identified the talent in her.
He could be a bee to a blossom—a pear tree blossom in the spring. He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps. Crushing aromatic herbs with every step he took.
Janie is reflecting on Tea Cake. She recalls the first time she saw pear tree blossom. Janie feels the same emotions when she meets Tea Cake. She confirms that she is falling in love with Tea Cake and wants to spend time with him.
Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.
Janie speaks these lines when she returns to her Nanny’s place and goes fishing. She is now completely satisfied and contented. It shows that she has achieved her dream to love and live. In the end, she recalls her life, every up and down as she cherishes her memories with Tea Cake.