Power, Language, and Identity

There is no question that Their Eyes is spearheaded by dialogue. Hurston takes advantage of the familiar southern dialect and guides the novel accordingly.  Jody’s need for dominance over Janie is apparent through his actions, especially during the mayoral speech.

“The burst of applause was cut short by Joe taking the floor himself.

‘Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife dont 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'” (43).

The contrasting identities of Janie and Jody regarding independence result in a power conflict observed by the town.

“‘Maybe he make her do it.  Maybe he skeered some de rest of us mens might touch it round dat store.  It sho is uh hidden mystery tuh me.’

‘She sho don’t talk much.  De way he rears and pitches in de store sometimes when she make uh mistake is sort of ungodly, but she don’t seem to mind at all.  Reckon dey understand one ‘nother'” (50).

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