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Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston
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In Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, why does Janie's husband not want her talking to people on the porch?

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In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, some people of Eatonville, usually men, like to gather on the porch at Joe Starks ' store to tell stories and to socialize. One favorite story told and retold is about a yellow mule, which Janie loves to listen...

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In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, some people of Eatonville, usually men, like to gather on the porch at Joe Starks' store to tell stories and to socialize. One favorite story told and retold is about a yellow mule, which Janie loves to listen to because it provides some distracting entertainment from tending the store. She wishes that she could share stories that she makes up about the mule, too. In chapter 6, though, Joe forbids his wife to participate in the stories on the porch because of the following reason:

"He didn't want her talking after such trashy people. 'You'se Mrs. Mayor Starks, Janie. I god, Ah can't see what uh woman uh yo' stability would want tuh be treasurin' all dat gum-grease from folks dat don't even own de house dey sleep in . . . They's jus' some puny humans playin' round de toes uh Time'" (54).

From what Joe says above, he doesn't want his wife fraternizing with locals who don't have the money or social status to equal hers. He is also amazed that she would even consider listening to people who waste time telling stories rather than working. Joe wants his wife to appreciate her status in the community and to act like she is better than others. Forbidding her to participate in the stories on the porch is just one of many ways that Joe squashes and controls Janie's life.

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