Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 9: Summary and Analysis
by Zora Neale Hurston

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Chapter 9: Summary and Analysis

Joe's death is an ostentatious affair, with Cadillacs, Buicks, and Lincolns bringing mourners from all over Orange County. Janie projects an outward image of grief, but inside she goes "rollicking in the springtime" and looks forward to her freedom. She keeps managing the store, though, and at night, alone in that same house, she grows lonesome, thinking of all the deaths in her life. She thinks of Nanny in particular, growing angry and bitter all over again because Nanny forced her to marry Logan Killicks and in so doing crushed the happiness out of her. In her quiet moments, Janie thinks of how God made Man out of beautiful material and how the angels got jealous and cut Man into a million ugly pieces. She finds that beautiful material in herself and wants to show it off.

Just a month after Joe's death, men start coming around Janie's house, asking her if she needs an "advisor" to help her manage Joe's wealth, which she has inherited. Amused, Janie rebuffs them all, until one day Ike Green comes up to her and says that she has to be careful who she marries next. Having never considered this, Janie becomes indignant, but later realizes that there's some truth in this, and that she mustn't open up to just anyone. Instead, she should enjoy her freedom.


Hurston uses a complicated metaphor when she says that Nanny pinched the horizon into a small thin string that she tied around Janie's neck, metaphorically choking her in the name of love. The horizon in this context is Janie's dream of the future and her longing for love, which Nanny tries to kill when she marries Janie off to Logan Killicks.


Hurston uses a simile when she says that Janie's face is "like a wall of stone and steel."


Marriage. In the wake of Joe's death it becomes clear, once again, that marriage means money and power to most men in this community. They're only interested in Janie because she's rich now, and though Janie willingly goes on dates with these men, she feels no real connection with them. If marriage is a form of slavery, then the absence of marriage is an obvious sign of independence. That Janie initially refuses to consider the idea of remarriage further emphasizes how bad and disappointing her first two marriages were.

Money.  Almost as soon as Joe dies,...

(The entire section is 600 words.)