Their Eyes Were Watching God

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In an effort to reject Janie in a more formal way, Jody decides to relocate his belongings to a guest room, where he also sleeps in order to avoid Janie at night. Jody's desire to avoid Janie continues to grow stronger, as he ignores her in the store and refuses to eat the food she prepares for him. In conversation with Janie, Pheoby Watson reveals the fact that people throughout Eatonville believe Janie has been attempting to poison Jody. Janie is horrified by the mere idea of this, indicating her continued sense of allegiance to her husband, even in their relationship's highly compromised final stages.
Jody's decision to change rooms shows that he is now relying on new mechanisms to insult Janie; he can no longer rely on language to silence Janie, as she has begun to found a voice for herself, as shown through her sardonic series of insults to Jody at the end of Chapter 7. Janie's continued sense of allegiance to Jody speaks to the complexity of her emotions at this stage – as she feels simultaneous sadness about Jody's deterioration and accompanying deterioration of their marriage, though at the same time remains angry about the years of silence she endured under Jody's harsh control.
Themes
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Janie calls for a doctor from nearby in Orlando to examine Jody, determined to get her husband proper care despite having complicated feelings about him. The doctor informs Janie that it will only be a matter of days until Jody dies. Mourning Jody's impending death, Janie attempts to rekindle closeness with her husband in order to improve his final days. Despite Janie's efforts, Jody defensively accuses her of never having appreciated his generosity. Feeling a sudden sense of impending freedom from Jody, Janie articulates her long-held feeling that he was a tyrannical man who did not allow her any kind of self-expression. In a moment of intense anger, Janie reveals to Jody that he has been and is on his death-bed, a statement that Jody initially perceives as an insult, but quickly accepts as truth.
Janie is able to find full self-expression now with firm knowledge of Jody's oncoming death. Having recognized her capacity for self-defense and expression, Janie uses language to push Jody fully toward his demise; despite her initial feelings of ambivalence regarding Jody's death, Janie ultimately recognizes his deterioration as a sign of her own freedom: Janie is able to express her belief that her husband is and has been a tyrant at the same moment that she informs him of his death. It is precisely through each and every episode of her relationship with Jody that Janie is able to come to this moment of deep self-expression.
Themes
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Soon after their argument, Jody dies and Janie is left to her own devices. Feeling a complicated mix of nostalgia, sympathy, mourning, and anger regarding Jody and their marriage, Janie looks in the mirror and has a climactic moment of self-recognition. She removes the rag from her head, now that Jody is no longer alive to force her to wear it. However, presumably recalling the rumors of the townspeople, Janie realizes she must be filled with apparent grief in order not to appear as a traitor. As such, she puts the head-rag back on and announces out her window that Jody has died.
Janie's removal of the scarf from her head marks a symbolic removal of Jody's control from her life. In particular, she is now able to regain her sense of self as a beautiful and desirable woman, something that Jody deliberately tried to destroy, especially in the final days preceding his death. Yet, Janie's eventual decision to keep the scarf on in order to avoid judgment from the townspeople shows that she is still subject to the judgments of the townspeople. She is still not completely free to express herself.
Themes
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon