Their Eyes Were Watching God

What criticism of Janie do the woman sitting on the porch mention? Why are they so critical of her?

Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

Chapter 1

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Janie has been gone from Eatonville for a very long time, and it is dusk when she returns. As she walks through the center of town to her old home, all the people of the village stare at her and judge her. The townspeople are cruel and envious. They wonder why she is returning in improper overalls instead of a proper dress and where her husband is.

Janie walks straight through the town and does not let anyone bother her. Janie is a beautiful black woman; the men notice her tight bottom, her beautiful hair and her "pugnacious breasts." The women are envious of her; they hope she might fall to their level some day.

The women are angry that she does not stop and explain herself. Only Pheoby Watson, Janie's old best friend, defends Janie's silence saying that maybe her story is not for their ears, or maybe she has nothing to tell. Pheoby leaves the women to take some supper to Janie.

Pheoby finds Janie sitting on the back porch of her home, soaking her tired feet. Janie and Pheoby hear laughter from the women across the street; they talk about the terrible jealousy and pettiness of the women. Pheoby remarks that "an envious heart makes a treacherous ear."

Janie and Pheoby share some laughter and Pheoby says that Janie should hurry up and inform the community about her past to end all the negative gossip about her. But Janie remarks that she doesn't want to waste the time; besides Pheoby can inform them later. Janie says, "Mah tongue is in mah friend's mouf."