Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Jody Starks Character Analysis

Jody Starks is Janie's handsome, wealthy, ambitious, and power-hungry second-husband. Meeting Jody Starks prompts Janie to leave her first husband, Logan Killicks, who she felt treated her as nothing more than an animal. Upon meeting Jody, Janie feels that she catches a glimpse of the horizon. Although Jody initially flatters Janie by focusing on and complimenting her beauty, he too ends up demoralizing her, treating her as an object upon which to exercise his desire for control and power rather than as a partner of equal standing in the relationship.

Jody Starks Quotes in Their Eyes Were Watching God

The Their Eyes Were Watching God quotes below are all either spoken by Jody Starks or refer to Jody Starks. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of Their Eyes Were Watching God published in 2006.
Chapter 4 Quotes

Janie pulled back a long time because he did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees, but he spoke for far horizon.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford, Jody Starks
Related Symbols: The Horizon, The Pear Tree
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

Janie meets Jody Starks while Logan is away, buying a second mule in Lake City. She is intrigued by his "citified, stylish" manner, and they end up meeting every day and discussing his ambitions. In this section, Janie has not yet decided to elope with him, but harbors certain doubts "because he [does] not represent sun-up and pollen."

Here, Janie has a sort of premonition, a sense that Jody will not provide the love and passion she so desperately desires: he has nothing of the pear tree about him, but only the "far horizon." Yet the horizon is still an important symbol to Janie, and Jody's worldliness and style give her a glimpse of the world beyond her small town. She wants experience and excitement in addition to a perfect love; though Jody can only deliver the former, she still decides to run off with him, abandoning Logan (who offers neither). 

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Chapter 5 Quotes

"Thank yuh fuh yo' compliments, but mah wife don't know nothin' 'bout no speech-makin'. Ah never married her for nothin' lak dat. She's uh woman and her place is in de home."

Related Characters: Jody Starks (speaker), Janie Crawford
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

The town congregates in Jody's store and celebrates his success, agreeing that he should serve as a temporary mayor. While he accepts the townspeople's congratulations, he does not accept their suggestion that Janie make a speech — "her place is in de home," seen but not heard. 

Of course, this leaves Janie feeling "cold" on the way home, not quite resentful but certainly wary of Jody's attitude towards womanhood and marriage. Readers can view this moment as another warning sign, foreshadowing the inevitable rupture between the two characters. Jody wishes to control and master Janie; he does not wish for emotional and intellectual equality with her. Indeed, he speaks with astonishing condescension in this quote, referring to her in the third person, making no acknowledgment of her presence or her personal desires. 

This moment might remind readers of Nanny Crawford's assertion that a black woman is society's "mule." In many ways, Jody defies social conventions by becoming mayor, a traditionally white role; yet he does not allow his wife to do the same, to become a person rather than a possession. 

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Jody Starks Character Timeline in Their Eyes Were Watching God

The timeline below shows where the character Jody Starks appears in Their Eyes Were Watching God. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
...spots a stylish and charismatic young man in town, who goes by the name of Joe Starks. They meet eyes and begin to flirt, as Joe tells Janie of his desire... (full context)
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Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Joe stays around town for what is presumably longer than he had expected to, and sees... (full context)
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Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...to. After a painful end to their fight, Janie immediately runs off to reunite with Jody at a nearby secretly-arranged location and time. They marry before sundown and together run away... (full context)
Chapter 5
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When Jody and Janie arrive to the new Florida town called Eatonville, they are surprised to find... (full context)
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Jody continues to make a name for himself in the town by announcing his plan to... (full context)
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Jody makes back the money he spent buying the 200 acres by selling land to newly-arrived... (full context)
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In his new role as mayor, Jody declares that the town needs a street lamp. As such, he purchases the lamp and... (full context)
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...of the simultaneous feelings of admiration and jealousy that the townspeople feel toward her and Jody. In particular, Janie senses envy in the townspeople's perception of their house – unlike the... (full context)
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...can only speculate about why and how she might be able to be married to Jody, who has become known increasingly throughout town as unpleasantly domineering. In particular, they note the... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Jody overhears Janie, and in order to quell Janie's anxiety about the mule's victimization, Jody purchases... (full context)
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Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
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When the mule dies, Jody plans a funeral for it, as the mule had become a kind of mascot for... (full context)
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One day following the funeral, Janie finds herself annoyed at Jody and instead of remaining silent, she plainly tells him, "You sho loves to tell me... (full context)
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...of natural instinct to avoid heat, or because they have been conditioned to avoid it. Jody joins in the conversation, and despite her passive position as listener, Janie too finds herself... (full context)
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...man named Tony Robbins – enters the store and requests a bit of meat from Jody for her starving family. Janie ends up getting the meat for Mrs. Robbins, who remarks... (full context)
Chapter 7
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The years being married to Jody take "all the fight out of Janie's face," as she spends them ignoring her emotions... (full context)
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During this time, Jody has aged a great deal, such that Janie even describes there being "something dead about... (full context)
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Jody grows increasingly rude and intolerable as his health worsens. Jody's insults reach an all-time high... (full context)
Chapter 8
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Soon after their argument, Jody dies and Janie is left to her own devices. Feeling a complicated mix of nostalgia,... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Janie attends Jody's funeral and pretends to be in mourning in order to convince the townspeople that her... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Janie tells Pheoby that Tea Cake is not comparable to Jody Starks, and that she wants to escape the potential comparisons that might arise if she... (full context)