Their Eyes Were Watching God; Day Three

February 22, 2008 at 5:42 pm | Posted in Their Eyes Were Watching God | Leave a comment
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Chapters 7-12

Chapter 7

The years took all the fight out of Janie’s face. For a while she thought it was gone from her soul. No matter what Jody did, she said nothing. She had learned how to talk some and leave some. She was a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels. Sometimes she stuck out into the future, imagining her life different from what it was. But mostly she lived between her hat and her heels, with her emotional disturbances like shade patterns in the woods–come and gone with the sun. She got nothing from Jody except what money could buy, and she was giving away what she didn’t value. Now and again she thought of a country road at sun-up and considered flight. To where? To what? Then too she considered thirty-five is twice seventeen and nothing was the same at all. (76)

Joe and Janie are both getting older. He keeps teasing her, insulting her about her looks. But in actuality, it’s the changes in himself that he’s trying to deny, trying to hide. Joe is sick and trying hard to keep up appearances. He doesn’t want the town to see, the world to see just how weak he’s become. Janie has pity on him for the most part and puts up with a lot. But a brief exchange at the store changes all that and Joe moves out of the bedroom. From that day on he doesn’t even pretend to love her anymore.

Chapter 8

After that night Jody moved his things and slept in a room downstairs. He didn’t really hate Janie, but he wanted her to think so. He had crawled off to lick his wounds. They didn’t talk too much around the store either. Anybody that didn’t know would have thought that things had blown over, it looked so quiet and peaceful around. But the stillness was the sleep of swords. So new thoughts had to be thought and new words said. She didn’t want to live like that. Why must Joe be so mad with her for making him look small when he did it to her all the time? Had been doing it for years. (81)

In this chapter, Joe’s health continues to fail. He hasn’t sought out a real doctor yet. But he’s taken to consorting with a faker, a root-doctor. He then starts spreading rumors that Janie’s out to get him, out to poison him. Then he took to his bed and wasn’t able to leave. The town parades in and out of their home ignoring Janie for the most part. She is finally able to force him to see a doctor. The doc tells her that Joe is dying. That he waited too long–several years too long. She’s been kept from her own husband, kept from his bedside because he doesn’t want to see her, doesn’t want her around. But when she knows he’s dying she makes up her mind to see him no matter what he says he wants. She has things she needs to say even if he doesn’t want to listen to her.

A snippet of what she has to say, Dat’s just whut Ah wants tuh say, Jody. You wouldn’t listen. 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. (86)

The chapter ends with him dying.

Chapter 9

Joe’s funeral was the finest thing Orange County had ever seen with Negro eyes. (88)

Janie is wearing a mask in front of the world–her friends and neighbors–but his death has been quite a relief to her. She’s free now. She’s free for the first time in ages. She feels like she can breathe, and think, and move on her own. The weight of the world has been lifted off her shoulders. “She sent her face to Joe’s funeral, and herself went rollicking with the springtime across the world” (88). The first thing she does as a free woman?

Before she slept that night she burnt up every one of her head rags and went about the house next morning with her hair in one thick braid swinging well below her waist. That was the only change people saw in her. She kept the store in the same way except of evenings she sat on the porch and listened and sent Hezekiah in to wait on late custom. She saw no reason to rush at changing things around. She would have the rest of her life to do as she pleased. (89)

She’s starting to think things through a bit. Able to sort through all the things that have happened to her. And she realizes that she’s extremely angry at her grandmother.

Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon–for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you–and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her. She hated the old woman who had twisted her so in the name of love. (89)

In this chapter she goes through the prescribed mourning. The folks both in and out of town realize that there is now a woman–a wealthy woman–back on the market. Suitors–I should call them potential suitors–start lining up trying to sweet talk and woo her. But she doesn’t really pay much attention to the bunch. She thinks that Joe and Logan has taught her everything she ever needed to know about the opposite sex. And she loves her freedom to much to sacrifice it for some man.

Chapter 10

One day Hezekiah asked off from work to go off with the ball team. Janie told him not to hurry back. She could close up the store herself this once. (94)

Janie thinks that she’s done with men, done with courting, done with so-called “love”. In this chapter she meets Tea Cake. (His name is really Vergible Woods.) She learns that maybe just maybe she has a thing or two more to learn. But she ain’t in no hurry to throw it all away either. If love is out there for her, it will be sought on her time table and no one elses. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first, he teaches her to play checkers. They talk, they flirt a little, and then he walks her home.

Chapter 11

Janie wanted to ask Hezekiah about Tea Cake, but she was afraid he might misunderstand her and think she was interested. (100)

A week has passed, and Tea Cake back to continue teaching Janie how to play checkers. There’s plenty of flirting going on too. She likes it. He walks her home and she invites him to sit on the porch with her and talk. Talk led her to remember she had a pound cake in the kitchen. Soon Tea Cake is picking lemons in the moonlight to make lemonade. They continue, and soon they’re off for a fishing trip in the middle of the night. The next night, he comes courting again.

All next day in the house and store she thought resisting thoughts about Tea Cake. She even ridiculed him in her mind and was a little ashamed of the association. But every hour or two the battle had to be fought all over again. She couldn’t make him look just like any other man to her. He looked like the love thoughts of women. 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. Spices hung about him. He was a glance from God. (106)

The courting continues, and the intimacy deepens. We’ll see in the next chapter that the town does not approve of her hanging around Tea Cake. And the talk of them spending nights together deepens the scandal.

Chapter 12

It was after the picnic that the town began to notice things and get mad. (110)

In this chapter we hear the town gossiping and we witness a conversation between Phoeby and Janie. Janie and Tea Cake are planning to run away together and get married. Janie’s going to sell the store and run off with Tea Cake and start a whole new life. The whole town is against it. Even Phoeby–her best friend–has her doubts about Tea Cake’s character. But Janie is in love and happy and full of hope and promise for the first time.

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