Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston Summary and Analysis Chapter 7

Summary

The long years of the empty, loveless marriage go on. Janie develops an outward appearance of compliance, but inwardly she is saving her emotions. Seventeen years pass, and Joe, more than Janie, begins visibly aging. His vanity makes it hard for him to accept his aging and his as-yet-unadmitted illness. Characteristically, he transfers his frustration about his decline to Janie; one day he even orders her away from a croquet game because he says it's something for young folks.

Joe shows signs of physical decline: an aching back, increasing thinness, and grumpiness. His verbal abuse of Janie becomes worse, and the townfolks see that it has gone far beyond that to which they have been accustomed. Throughout the marriage, Joe never hesitates to insult Janie before them, and she always bites her tongue and accepts it, but as Joe's aging and illness make him even more bitter, Janie unexpectedly strikes back. Before an audience of porch sitters, she insults his manhood. This is Janie's emancipation, and Joe retaliates by striking her as hard as he can and making her leave the store.

Analysis

Chapter 7 serves as a pivotal point for Janie and her marriage. As the years have passed, Janie has become totally submissive to Joe, to avoid both his physical and verbal abuse. Joe has made an effort over the years to ridicule Janie even more when there was an audience to witness his cruelty. However, when Janie makes a mistake while cutting chewing tobacco, Joe lashes out at Janie in the middle of the store by criticizing her intelligence and her beauty.

Suddenly, something changes for Janie. She says that she felt as if "somebody snatched off part of a woman's clothes while she wasn't looking and the street were crowded." After years of his oppression, Janie stands up for herself before Joe and a group of townspeople. She begins to take control of her life, by telling Joe what she really thinks. By lashing out, she "had robbed him of his illusion of irresistible maleness that all men cherish, which was terrible."

Joe's destruction heightens, causing both Janie and himself great emotional pain. Janie has exposed Joe before the townspeople, causing him great embarrassment. Not only has Janie spoken out against Joe, but also the townspeople laughed, "cast[ing] down his empty armor before men." To show that he still holds power over Janie, Joe responds by striking Janie as hard as he possibly can. Smacking Janie is his only means of saving face. It is apparent that Joe is losing control over his own life, with his declining health and the disobedience of his wife.

Glossary

Then too she considered thirty-five is twice seventeen Janie has grown older and is more experienced than when Nanny married her off to Logan Killicks. She realizes how much of her life has passed. Accurate addition isn't important, the passage of time is.

Y'all really playin' de dozens tuhnight trading insults, usually in a predictable way, but the insults are based on exaggeration of personal traits and involve derogatory statements about members of each other's family — often, someone's mother.

The thing that Saul's daughter had done to David In I Samuel 18-19, Saul has two daughters, Merab and Michal. Saul gave Michal to David, and she saved his life. Saul was immensely jealous of David because of his youth, beauty, intelligence, and potential power. Saul wanted to kill him, but Michal foiled the plot.

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