Their Eyes Were Watching God

Janie Crawford Character Analysis

The novel's heroine, Janie is both the narrator and protagonist of her story. Of mixed-race origins, Janie is the object of much attention for her notably light black skin and physical beauty. But behind Janie's beauty is where her true character lies: she is headstrong, determined to achieve fulfillment on her quest for independence, spiritual nourishment, and self-expression.

Janie Crawford Quotes in Their Eyes Were Watching God

The Their Eyes Were Watching God quotes below are all either spoken by Janie Crawford or refer to Janie Crawford. 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 2 Quotes

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage!

Related Characters: Janie Crawford
Related Symbols: The Pear Tree
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it's some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don't know nothin' but what we see…De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see."

Related Characters: Nanny Crawford (speaker), Janie Crawford
Related Symbols: Mule
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

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

Related Characters: Janie Crawford, Logan Killicks
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

"Sometimes God gits familiar wid us womenfolks too and talks His inside business. He told me how surprised He was 'bout y'all turning out so smart after Him makin' yuh different; and how surprised y'all is goin' tuh be if you ever find out you don't know half as much bout us as you think you do."

Related Characters: Janie Crawford (speaker)
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

The young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place. She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair. The weight, the length, the glory was there.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

Somebody wanted her to play. Somebody thought it natural for her to play. That was even nice. She looked him over and got little thrills from every one of his good points.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford, Tea Cake
Related Symbols: Checkers
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

The thing made itself into pictures and hung around Janie's bedside all night long. Anyhow, she wasn't going back to Eatonville to be laughed at and pitied. She had ten dollars in her pocket and twelve hundred in the bank.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

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He drifted off into sleep and Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford, Tea Cake
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 15 Quotes

Janie seethed. But Tea Cake never let go. They wrestled on until they were doped with their own fumes and emanations; till their clothes had been torn away; till he hurled her to the floor and held her there melting her resistance with the heat of his body, doing things with their bodies to express the inexpressible.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford, Tea Cake
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 17 Quotes

"Janie is wherever Ah wants tuh be. Dat's de kind uh wife she is and Ah love her for it."

Related Characters: Tea Cake (speaker), Janie Crawford
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

Tea Cake was lying with his eyes closed and Janie hoped he was asleep. He wasn't. A great fear had took hold of him. What was this thing that set his brains fire and grabbed at his throat with iron fingers? Where did it come from and why did it hang around him?

Related Characters: Janie Crawford, Tea Cake
Related Symbols: The Hurricane
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

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She talked. . . . She just sat there and told and when she was through she hushed.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

"Ah done been tuh de horizon and back and now Ah kin set heah in mah house and live by comparisons. Dis house ain't so absent of things lak it used tuh be befo' Tea Cake come along. It's full uh thoughts, 'specially dat bedroom."

Related Characters: Janie Crawford (speaker), Tea Cake
Related Symbols: The Horizon
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

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Of course he wasn't dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish net…She called in her soul to come and see.

Related Characters: Janie Crawford, Tea Cake
Related Symbols: The Horizon
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

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Janie Crawford Character Timeline in Their Eyes Were Watching God

The timeline below shows where the character Janie Crawford appears in Their Eyes Were Watching God. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...the woman has returned. At this moment, the woman's identity is revealed: her named is Janie Starks, and she left town with a man called Tea Cake, who was much younger... (full context)
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Pheoby brings Janie a small plate of dinner and compliments Janie on still looking so young and womanly,... (full context)
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
With a laugh about the townspeople's mean-spirited gossip, Janie tells her friend with calm self-assurance that no one should worry about her; without any... (full context)
Chapter 2
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Janie is raised by her grandmother Nanny, and never met her mother or father. Janie and... (full context)
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
The kids at Janie's predominantly black school pick on her because of her light skin and absent parents. To... (full context)
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Janie receives her first kiss from Johnny Taylor over that gate when she is sixteen. The... (full context)
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Nanny notices Janie and Johnny kiss from inside the house, and quickly arranges for Janie to marry Logan... (full context)
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
When Janie protests against marrying Logan, Nanny defends her decision by describing her own difficult past. Nanny... (full context)
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...dreams were dashed when Leafy was then raped by her schoolteacher, who impregnated her with Janie. After Leafy gave birth to Janie, she started to drink every night and then fled... (full context)
Chapter 3
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
During the anxious "few days to live before" marrying Logan Killicks, Janie contemplates whether or not she will ever grow to love her future husband, resolving eventually... (full context)
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Two months pass while Janie "waits for love to begin" for her new husband until she returns home to visit... (full context)
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Janie is then met with severe criticism: Nanny calls attention to Logan's wealth, again making reference... (full context)
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
After Janie leaves, Nanny prays that God will take care of her granddaughter. Within a month, Nanny... (full context)
Chapter 4
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Over time, Logan becomes not only less affectionate toward Janie, but begins to boss her around aggressively and reprimand her for not being gracious and... (full context)
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
One morning, Logan leaves home to go buy a second mule so that Janie and he can both productively plow the fields. While Logan is away buying the mule,... (full context)
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...stays around town for what is presumably longer than he had expected to, and sees Janie each day in secret. Joe asks Janie to refer to him by a special nickname... (full context)
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
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When Logan returns, Janie and he fight again: Logan reiterates his belief that Janie is spoiled and ungrateful, and... (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 that it... (full context)
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...these gestures, the townspeople collectively name Jody the town mayor. At the store, Taylor invites Janie to give a speech as the mayor's new wife, though Jody prohibits her from speaking... (full context)
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...should be installed. Jody organizes a ceremonial celebration for the lighting of the new lamp. Janie expresses a vague sense of dissatisfaction to Jody regarding his recent unavailability toward her –... (full context)
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In the coming weeks, Janie is aware of the simultaneous feelings of admiration and jealousy that the townspeople feel toward... (full context)
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Because Janie is kept silent by her husband, the townspeople can only speculate about why and how... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Janie feels limited by the repetitive nature of working in the store each day, but is... (full context)
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Jody overhears Janie, and in order to quell Janie's anxiety about the mule's victimization, Jody purchases the mule... (full context)
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...draws residents from around the entire town and proves to be quite celebratory, Jody prohibits Janie's attendance, attributing his decision to his desire to preserve her high status by discouraging her... (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... (full context)
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...to avoid it. Jody joins in the conversation, and despite her passive position as listener, Janie too finds herself engaging in the lively discussion – that is, until Jody demands her... (full context)
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...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 that her husband neglects to... (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 and learning to submit herself to Jody's... (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 him." As Jody loses the ability to sit... (full context)
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...and intolerable as his health worsens. Jody's insults reach an all-time high one day when Janie is helping a customer at the store: she makes a mistake preparing tobacco for a... (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,... (full context)
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Janie calls for a doctor from nearby in Orlando to examine Jody, determined to get her... (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, sympathy, mourning, and... (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... (full context)
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Janie expresses anger toward Nanny and the values and worldviews she taught Janie as a child.... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Hezekiah Potts leaves work early one day to go to a ball game and Janie reassures him that she can close the store by herself this once. Besides slow business,... (full context)
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After asking the man how he plans to get home, Janie realizes that she doesn't know his name. The man responds that his name is Vergible... (full context)
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Tea Cake says goodnight to Janie and she finds herself thinking about her safety on her walk home – particularly, the... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Janie is tempted to ask Hezekiah what he knows about Tea Cake, but decides not to... (full context)
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Having stayed at the store all day, Tea Cake walks Janie home, where they then eat pound cake and make fresh lemonade. After remarking that the... (full context)
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The next morning, Hezekiah warns Janie about spending time with a man like Tea Cake, who he believes is too "low"... (full context)
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Janie spends the following day thinking about Tea Cake. Despite her conscious desire to suppress her... (full context)
Chapter 12
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After Tea Cake and Janie make their first public appearance together at the town picnic, Janie becomes the object of... (full context)
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Pheoby approaches Janie and warns her of her status as the object of the town's gossip, paying particular... (full context)
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Janie tells Pheoby that Tea Cake is not comparable to Jody Starks, and that she wants... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Janie leaves Eatonville and meets Tea Cake in Jacksonville, where he's been waiting for her. Free... (full context)
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The next morning, Tea Cake leaves early in the morning, leaving Janie to ponder his whereabouts. Thinking still that Tea Cake simply went out to find fish... (full context)
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After Janie takes a nap, still waiting anxiously, she hears Tea Cake outside playing guitar. He admits... (full context)
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Tea Cake listens to Janie and promises to reimburse her for the money he stole. When Tea Cake leaves on... (full context)
Chapter 14
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When Janie and Tea Cake arrive in the Everglades, Janie is overwhelmed by how lush and different... (full context)
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Janie fulfills the traditionally female household roles of food preparation and cleaning, but spends the days... (full context)
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Janie and Tea Cake's home is crowded each night with neighbors, who visit either to listen... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Janie experiences romantic jealousy for the first time in her marriage with Tea Cake: she finds... (full context)
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After screaming, separating Tea Cake and Nunkie, and attempting to harm Nunkie physically, Janie and Tea Cake return home, where Janie expresses her fury to Tea Cake regarding his... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Satisfied with their lifestyle at the end of the harvest season, Janie and Tea Cake decide to remain in the muck and wait until next year. At... (full context)
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When Janie returns inside to Tea Cake, she realizes that Tea Cake has heard her entire conversation... (full context)
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After telling Janie that talking to Mr. Turner won't change Mrs. Turner's behavior toward her, Tea Cake instructs... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...new and old faces, including Mrs. Turner's infamous brother. Instantly jealous, Tea Cake preemptively whips Janie in order to make sure she doesn't cheat on him. Upon observing Janie's bruises, Sop-de-Bottom... (full context)
Chapter 18
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One afternoon, Janie watches a large group of Seminole Indians steadily walk past her house and asks them... (full context)
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One of the local Bahaman boys invites Tea Cake and Janie a ride to get to higher ground, but Tea Cake refuses the offer and assures... (full context)
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...in Lake Okechobee. All except one man – Motor Boat – leave Tea Cake and Janie's home to seek shelter in their own homes. The arrival of the hurricane is intensely... (full context)
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As the wind slaps against them and the waters rise, Tea Cake tells Janie that he assumes she is thinking about her big house back in Eatonville and wondering... (full context)
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Janie struggles to swim in the "fighting water" as Tea Cake, too, begins to lose his... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Surrounded by dead bodies and destroyed homes in Palm Beach, Janie and Tea Cake discuss where to go and what to do next. Meanwhile, two white... (full context)
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When Tea Cake and Janie return, they are happily surprised to find out that Motor Boat survived the hurricane. Things... (full context)
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In the coming days, Janie watches Tea Cake lose his sanity, appearing as though "a great fear had took hold... (full context)
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Before going to talk to the doctor again the following morning, Janie cautiously checks Tea Cake's pistol while he is outside using the outhouse, and finds that... (full context)
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Later that same day, Janie is put on trial for Tea Cake's death. In the courtroom, the black people who've... (full context)
Chapter 20
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The black men living around the muck realize after the "royal" burial Janie gives Tea Cake that they were wrong to abuse her as they did. As such,... (full context)
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At this point, Janie concludes her story to Pheoby, telling her that she is satisfied to be home, as... (full context)
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Before falling asleep that night, Janie returns to the memory of killing Tea Cake. She realizes that Tea Cake is still... (full context)