The Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston
Contributed by Jennefer Ruano
Chapter 8

Despite Chapter Seven’s fireworks, Joe and Janie continue living in the same house, although Joe begins living in a room downstairs. Soon, Joe falls ill and becomes bed-ridden; he will not, however, allow Janie into his sick room. Janie - without Joe’s knowledge - sends for a doctor, who says Joe has kidney failure and that he will die soon. Janie disobeys Joe’s order and visits him. During the visit Janie tells him what has been on her mind for the past fifteen years of their marriage: that he’s been too busy paying attention to himself to notice anybody else, and that he "ain’t de Jody ah run off down de road wid. You’se whut’s left after he died" (82). Faced with Janie speaking the truth, Joe Starks dies. Janie studies his face indifferently, then performs the symbolic act of tearing off the handkerchief from her head and letting down her hair. Finally, for Joe’s sake, Janie forms her face into "just what people wanted to see" (83) and cries out to the town that her husband is dead.

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