In chapters 5 through 6 of Their Eyes Were Watching God, what is the "rock" against which Janie is battered?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 5 of Their Eyes Were Watching God, as part of his plan to make Eatonville successful, the new mayor, Joe Starks, declares that a general store is essential. For, it can be a place for new folks to come and purchase property, it can supply the townspeople with their essentials; in addition, there can be a post office where people can send and receive mail. Joe tells Janie that she must run the store for him as he is too occupied with the duties of his office.

When the store first opens, desiring that his wife look better than the other women, Joe tells Janie to dress up and be in the store all evening.

She must look on herself as the bell-cow, the other women were the gang. so she put on one of her bought dress and...her silken ruffles rustled and muttered about her.

Soon Joe tells her he is too busy to help Janie with the store and she must run it herself.  But, managing the store all by herself gives Janie a "sick headache" because she is very stressed with trying to wait on people and keep the accounts at the same time.

She went through many silent rebellions over things like that. Such a waste of life and time.  But Joe kept saying that she could do it if she wanted to, and he wanted her to use her privileges. That was the rock she was battered against.

Once again, Janie is not her own person. When she wishes to join in the laughter and conversations on the porch of the store, Joe gives her a task to perform. Or, if Janie has a good laugh about something such as the single men's purchasing of gifts for the pretty Daisy Blunt, Joe publicly humiliates her by reprimanding her about missing an order.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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