Their Eyes Were Watching God

How does Janie's silence play a role and how does that role changes throughout the novel?

Their Eyes Were Watching God is concerned with issues of speech and how speech is both a mechanism of control and a vehicle of liberation. Yet Janie remains silent during key moments in her life.

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Speech in this novel is transcribed phonetically to capture the spirit of the black vernacular; the poetic and metaphoric aspect of the dialect emerges most strongly in forms like tall tales, songs, and prayers. The protagonist is especially concerned with the sincerity behind words and considers the ultimate virtue truth in language. The novel also explores the ways men and women use language differently; essentially, men dominate conversations, making demands and issuing orders, while women are cowed into submissive silence. For the most part, however, language has the most power when there is truth behind it.