Their Eyes Were Watching God

by: Zora Neale Hurston

Marriage

Quotes Marriage
She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.

When Janie was younger, her Nanny implied that with marriage, love would follow automatically. With this belief in mind, Janie agrees to marry Logan Killicks, a man she does not love. However, after a few months of marriage, Janie still does not love Logan; in fact, she likes him less now that she has gotten to know him and what life on his farm is like. Learning the lesson that marriage does not guarantee love changes Janie and affects her decision making moving forward.

The spirit of the marriage left the bedroom and took to living in the parlor. It was there to shake hands whenever company came to visit, but it never went back inside the bedroom again.

After getting married, the sexual spark between Janie and Jody disappears. However, they still live civilly and in harmony, at least as far as people outside the marriage can see. Janie knows that Jody has no respect for her, but she feels she has no other choice but to stay with him. Jody only cares that Janie submits to his authority: He knows that Janie is the most beautiful woman around, and therefore another symbol of his power. As a result, neither Janie nor Jody desires to break up the marriage or to let outsiders see what the marriage lacks.

“It always changes folks, and sometimes it brings out dirt and meanness dat even de person didn’t know they had in ‘em theyselves.”

Janie shares this insight she gained from two marriages as Janie’s friend Pheoby tries to warn her against marrying Tea Cake. After her marriage to Jody ended, Janie was in no hurry to remarry. She describes how marriage can bring out faults in people. However, her pessimism about marriage slowly begins to change after meeting Tea Cake. At first, her apprehension towards marriage leaves her feeling nervous and suspicious of Tea Cake’s motives, despite their mutual attraction and happiness. In the end, Tea Cake wins her over and she agrees to marry him.

“[I]n the beginnin’ new thoughts had to be thought and new words said. After Ah’ got used tuh dat, we gits ‘long jus fine. He done taught me de maiden language all over.”

Here, Janie explains why the age difference between herself and Tea Cake is not a significant issue. While she is almost forty and he is about twenty-five, she asserts that the main challenge that the age difference created was in how they communicated, perhaps because of her many prior years spent in two loveless marriages. With Tea Cake, Janie allows herself to learn, or relearn, the “maiden language,” or the language of young love. It is this knowledge that allows Janie to feel comfortable in a relationship with the younger man.