Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Janie attends Jody's funeral and pretends to be in mourning in order to convince the townspeople that her love for Jody was authentic. However, in reality, Janie feels free, having burned all of her head-rags and now wearing her hair in a braid below her waist. In her new state of being alone, which Janie really sees as a state of freedom and independence, Janie thinks more critically about her familial origins – and in particular, her relationship with Nanny.
Janie's continued concern for public perception of herself reveals, once again, her mechanism of self-censoring that will keep her newly recognized sense of independence from becoming out of hand. Janie's automatic connection between freedom as it relates to marriage (or lack thereof) and with Nanny points to the complexity of Janie's ideas about sex, love and marriage – they are a combination of her own ideas and those of her grandmother.
Themes
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Janie expresses anger toward Nanny and the values and worldviews she taught Janie as a child. Specifically, Janie says that Nanny took the idea of the horizon and limited it "to such a little bit of a thing." In other words, Janie feels anger toward Nanny because of the way that she stifled Janie's sense of possibility and wonder in life for the purposes of imparting upon her granddaughter the importance of stability, "aid and assistance" from a man.
Not only does Nanny's past as a slave cause her to prioritize material security in marriage, but also limits her sense of possibility. For that reason, Nanny limited Janie's sense of "the horizon" – the realm of possibilities. Janie's retroactive recognition of her anger toward Nanny indicates Janie's growing sense of independence and self-expression, as she continues to free herself from various sources of domination in her life – namely, Nanny and Jody.
Themes
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Despite Nanny's belief that "Uh woman by herself is uh pitiful thing," Janie feels remarkably happy in her new state of freedom – the only exception to her happiness being the store. She begins to wear white after six months of mourning, though is nevertheless not ready to accept any man's attempt to be with her: she explicitly tells Pheoby that she is happy being independent, and even confesses that she doesn't care if the townspeople think she is not sad about Jody's death, as it would not be fair to herself to stifle her own happiness.
Janie's decision to wear white but continue to rebuff the advances of suitors shows Janie's growing sense of fulfillment in independence. Not only is Janie now able to feel happy on her own, but wants to share the fact of her individual happiness unapologetically with the rest of the world, without the former anxiety of what people might think.
Themes
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon