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Free Study Guide-Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston-Free
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Chapters 2 - 4

Summary (continued)

The presence of Janie in her life gave Nanny a second chance. She has always tried to do right by the girl; she does not want anybody, white or black, using Janie. She genuinely believes that Logan is the right husband for her granddaughter and arranges the marriage. Janie wonders if love will come with marriage, or if marriage ends loneliness. The wedding takes place in Nanny's parlor. There is lots of food and a celebration, but the whole affair lacks excitement. Janie tries to believe, as Nanny says, that she will come to love Logan Killicks and that she will not feel lonely, but she is uncertain.

After three months of married life, Janie, feeling glum, goes to see Nanny in the white folks' kitchen. Nanny, upbeat and happy to see her granddaughter, quickly perceives that something is wrong. She suspects that Janie is pregnant, but the girl says she is not. She wonders if the couple has fought, but Janie says no. Janie says Logan brings in the firewood and does not hit her. Nanny casually remarks that such devotion will not last long. Nanny then insists upon knowing what is wrong. Janie explains that she does not love Logan; the promised transformation in her feelings has not happened. Nanny is annoyed and exclaims that "love just makes you sweat for nothing." She explains that fancy dudes with no money are easy to find; Logan, however, offers land, money, and security. Janie says she does not want fancy dudes, but Logan's land does not satisfy her heart either. She complains that Logan is simply not meant to be loved; he is old, ugly, and not very clean. Janie cries, thinking about the bea uty of the pear tree. Nanny sternly sends Janie home. She then begins to pray earnestly about Janie's problem. Nanny dies within the month.

Janie waits, hoping for better things. She knows the words of the trees and the wonders of the natural world. She addresses the falling leaves, saying that people and things have failed her. She is disappointed that marriage has not brought love. She hangs on the gate, anxiously looking up the road. She has become a woman, but there is no joy in it.


Before their first anniversary, Logan stops treating Janie nicely. He says she is spoiled and must learn to work. One day he insists that she cut seed potatoes while he goes to look about purchasing another mule. After cutting potatoes, she sits under an oak tree in the yard where she can see the road. She notices a young man walking and whistling; he is city stylish, with his hat cocked at an angle. Janie runs to the pump to make noise, hoping to gain his attention. He looks at Janie and asks for a drink of water. They strike up a conversation. His name is Joe Starks, and he comes from Georgia. He is on his way to a new Negro town being built in Florida. He has saved up some money and plans to do some important things in the new settlement. He cannot believe Janie is married and is shocked to learn that her husband wants her behind a plow. When he says she should be on a porch with a fan and with other folks doing for her, she laughs. They rest together under a tree and talk more. Joe decides to stay in the area for a week or so. Janie manages to meet him every day.

Joe's plans begin to include Janie. She is slow to respond, because she is shy, because Joe is not the pear tree either, and because the memory of Nanny is still powerful. Joe assures her that he will marry her, honor her, and treat her like a lady. If she will meet him down the road after sun-up the next day, she can leave with him and start living like she ought to live. Janie debates with herself. That night in bed she speaks to Logan, who says she acts like snobby white folks. She hints that she may run off. Although this idea scares Logan, he says that there are not many other fools like him to take care of her. She says he only counts material things. He is resentful and hopes he has hurt her feelings.

The next morning, while she cooks breakfast, Logan calls her from the barn to help him move a manure pile. She thinks he looks like a clumsy bear. She tells him that she has her own work to do. He claims that her place is wherever he says. She argues that she was not born just to take care of his sixty acres. Logan angrily tells her not to low-rate him and threatens to take an ax and kill her. He believes that she does not want him because he is hard working and honest, unlike her family. Half sobbing, he says that some "low-life nigger must have got ahold of her ear."

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