“It was a spring afternoon in West Florida. Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back yard. She had been spending ever minute that she could steal from her chores under that three for the last three days. That was to say, ever since the first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom.” (10)
Especially since the beginning of this chapter starts with Janie comparing her life to a tree, this passage marks the beginning of her sexual awakening and the experience of essentially getting a new body during puberty.
“He had always wanted to be a big voice, but de white folks had all de sayso where he come from and everywhere else, exceptin’ dis place dat colored folk was buildin’ theirselves.”
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006), 28.
Hurston gives Janie a “big voice” of sorts by letting her tenor of speech take over the narrative and describe her meeting Joe Starks. (Edit: I’m actually not sure if this specific sentence is Janie or Joe Starks; The beginning of the paragraph “sounds” like Janie, but at least to me, both of their voices seem present.) This is similar to Toomer, I think, because standard English isn’t the only language that runs the text.
“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.”
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p. 85
Nanny had taken life and love in all it’s grandeur and manipulated it to suit her own wishes for what she wanted Janie’s life to be like and in the process, suffocated her.
“She had waited all her life for something, and it had killed her when it found her.”
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p. 144.
Overall in Janie’s life, it seems as if everything that happens to her that seems good is actually a curse in disguise. Whether it be Tea Cake stealing her money, or Jody beating her or putting her down, Janie is constantly shut down by her significant others as they surprise her by revealing a dark side she didn’t know they had, leading her to not be able to trust anyone.