Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 2
Janie begins telling Pheoby her story. She tells her all about how her grandma, Nanny, raised her in West Florida with white people, the Washburns. Because Janie was always around white people, she never knew that she was black. Mrs. Washburn dressed Janie in her children's old clothes (which were nicer than the clothes of Janie's black schoolmates). Janie was called "alphabet" because people called her all different sorts of names. It was only until she saw a picture one day of all of the children that she realized that she was the black little girl.
Janie describes herself as a pear tree in bloom (in her present life):
"Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches." Chapter 2, pg. 8
When she was a teenager, 16 years old, she used to sit under the pear tree and dream about being a tree in bloom. She longs for something more. When she is 16, she kisses Johnny Taylor to see if this is what she longs for. Nanny sees her kiss him, and says that Janie is now a woman. She wants her to marry now and suggests that Janie marry Logan Killicks because he has shown an interest in Janie by always coming around their house. Janie does not want to marry Logan because he is old and rotten and he ruins the image of the blooming pear tree that Janie dreams about.
Nanny talks to Janie about what it was like to be black and always suppressed by white people. She tells Janie that she never had a voice, a chance to say what she believed in. She wants Janie to have this voice that she never had:
"'You know, honey, us colored folks is branches without roots and that makes things come round in queer ways. You in particular. Ah was born back due in slavery so it wasn't for me to fulfill my dreams of whut a woman oughta be and to do . . . Ah wanted to preach a great sermon about colored women sittin' on high, but they wasn't no pulpit for me.'" Chapter 2, pg. 15
Nanny tells Janie about what happened to Janie's mother, Leafy and herself. Nanny lived in Georgia before moving to West Florida. The white woman in charge of her threatened to kill Nanny's baby, Leafy, because she was half white and half black and this was unacceptable then. Nanny ran away in fear, and moved to West Florida. There, Leafy grew up with white people, and then was raped by a white school teacher (who disappears). This is how Janie was conceived. Leafy eventually becomes a drunk and runs away from home, leaving Janie to be raised by Nanny.
Nanny tells Janie that she is old now and her time is almost up. She wants to marry Janie off so that she knows Janie will be taken care of.